Vaccines

Washington woman's measles death is first in US since 2003

This thin-section transmission electron micrograph (TEM) reveals a single virus particle, or virion, of measles virus.

This thin-section transmission electron micrograph (TEM) reveals a single virus particle, or virion, of measles virus.  (CDC.gov)

Washington state health officials say measles caused the death of a woman from the northwest part of the state in the spring - the first measles death in the U.S. since 2003 and the first in Washington since 1990. 

The measles infection was discovered during an autopsy.

Washington State Department of Health spokesman Donn Moyer says the woman was hospitalized in Clallam County for several health conditions before being moved to the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle, where she died. He says officials are withholding her age to protect her identity, but she wasn't elderly.

Officials didn't say whether the woman was vaccinated, but they did note she had a compromised immune system.

Moyer says the woman likely was exposed to measles at the Clallam County medical facility. Clallam County had an outbreak of five cases this year.