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West Virginia Department of Health Reports First Case of Measles in Fifteen Years

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Health has confirmed the first case of measles since 2009 in a Monongalia County resident. The person was undervaccinated and had recent international travel. State health officials are currently working closely with the Monongalia County Health Department investigating the positive case and conducting contact tracing. In 2024, 125 cases of the virus were reported in 18 states. 

Measles is a highly contagious and serious respiratory illness that can lead to complications such as pneumonia, swelling of the brain, and even death. It spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the virus is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 90 percent of the people in close contact will also become infected if they are not protected through vaccination. 

The virus often starts with a fever and later causes a cough, runny nose, and red rash. Then a rash of tiny, red spots break out generally in the head area before spreading to the rest of the body. 

“The measles vaccine is the most effective way to protect yourself and your loved ones from this preventable disease. Those who receive the vaccine are usually considered protected for life,” said Sec. Sherri Young, D.O., MBA, FAAFP.

The measles vaccine is typically given in two doses with the first recommended between 12 and 15 months of age. The second dose is recommended between four and six years and, in West Virginia, is required before entering Kindergarten. Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) Vaccination | CDC

“The threat of measles exposure in the United States has been growing over the last decade. We strongly encourage individuals to follow the CDC’s immunization schedule and get their children fully vaccinated as soon as they are able,” said Dr. Matthew Christiansen, State Health Officer. “A recent measles outbreak in Pennsylvania sickened nine individuals, almost all of whom were unvaccinated.”  

The West Virginia Vaccines for Children (VFC) program also provides vaccines at no cost to children up to age 19 who are underinsured or whose parents or guardians may not be able to afford them. VFC coverage includes the seasonal flu and COVID-19 vaccines, as well as age-appropriate boosters, HPV and vaccines required for child care, school entry, and at grades seven and twelve.

For more information on how vaccinations can protect your family, please contact the West Virginia Division of Immunization Services at 304-558-2188. You can also find immunization information and vaccine schedules at https://oeps.wv.gov/immunizations.