The New Mexico Department of Health is investigating a possible case of measles in Sierra County in the southern part of the state, a spokesman said Wednesday.
There have been no confirmed cases of measles in New Mexico since 2014, despite outbreaks in several states in the past few months and hundreds of confirmed cases across the nation. But because the number of schoolchildren receiving exemptions from routine immunizations has increased steadily in New Mexico for decades, health officials said earlier this week that the probability of an outbreak also has risen.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, measles is especially dangerous in children younger than 5. That agency also said 1 in 4 people in the U.S. who gets measles will be hospitalized, and 1 or 2 in 1,000 people who contract the disease will die.
Measles was declared eliminated in 2000, but has made a comeback. From Jan. 1 to May 3, the CDC reported, 764 cases of measles had been confirmed in 23 states, including New Mexico’s neighboring states of Arizona, Colorado and Texas. The country hasn’t experienced that many cases since 1994.
California, New York, Georgia, New Jersey, Maryland and Michigan are in the midst of an outbreak, which the CDC defines as three or more active cases.