North Dakota has first measles case in 24 years

Associated Press

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota has its first confirmed case of the measles in nearly a quarter century, while South Dakota officials say there is the potential for a case in that state because of an out-of-state visitor with the virus.

Officials in both states are urging people to make sure their vaccinations are up to date.

The North Dakota case is in a Cass County man who is in his 50s and was not vaccinated, the Health Department said in a statement Monday. He mostly likely caught the virus on an airline flight and was not in North Dakota while contagious, officials said.

Measles is highly contagious and can cause permanent brain damage and even death. Symptoms include a rash, cough, runny nose, eye irritation and fever.

"Measles can be a severe, life-threatening illness," said Abbi Pierce, immunization surveillance coordinator for the North Dakota Health Department. "This case serves as a reminder that measles cases can and still do occur in the United States and even in North Dakota. Measles is a disease that reappears when immunization coverage rates fall, so getting yourself and your loved ones immunized is a safe and effective way to protect yourself against this disease."

The last case of measles in North Dakota was in 1987.

South Dakota has not had a case in 14 years. State health officials are reporting a case in an adult from out of state who visited at least Pennington and Fall River counties in May. They are cautioning residents that there is the potential for the disease to spread, The Daily Republic newspaper reported.