North Dakota reports first measles case since 1987

The North Dakota Department of Health recently reported the state’s first confirmed case of the measles since 1987.

The case is an unvaccinated male in his 50s who most likely contracted the illness while on an airline flight. He was not in North Dakota while contagious, according to

"We haven't had a measles case in 27 years, so it did come out of the blue, but we knew it would eventually happen with falling vaccination rates," Abbi Pierce, an immunization surveillance coordinator for the department of health, said, reports.

North Dakota’s MMR vaccination rate is about three percent higher than the national average, but adults born before 1957 generally have not been vaccinated.

"Those born before 1957 weren't routinely vaccinated because it was assumed that they had this illness (measles) as a child," Pierce said, according to "Generally, people are assumed to be immune if they are born before 1957. We are finding adults born before 1957 who may not have had those diseases (measles, mumps and rubella). They can still get those diseases and become very ill."

Recent measles outbreaks in the United States have caused concern among public health officials. The health department reported that the U.S. had about 58 cases of the measles on average annually from 2001 to 2008. Between January 1 and May 20, there have been 118 confirmed cases of the illness. Ninety percent of the cases were in people who had not received the vaccination.