West Virginia dodges measles outbreaks

According to a Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department spokesman, despite the high number of measles cases this year in the United States, West Virginia has yet to report a single case.

West Virginia and Mississippi are the two states that do not allow religious exemptions for vaccinations, News and Sentinel reports. It is also not one of the 15 states that allow for philosophical exemptions. These vaccinations include those for the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine that are required for children to receive twice, starting at six to 11 months old.

"The U.S. is seeing a higher than usual number, but West Virginia hasn't had one case because of our school entrance laws," Patrick Burke, a regional epidemiologist with the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department, said, according to News and Sentinel. "Measles is not a problem in West Virginia because of our laws and we've been really good about keeping up with these vaccines for our children."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 156 cases of measles between Jan. 1 and June 17, which is the highest number reported since 1996, News and Sentinel reports. A total of 136 of the cases are associated with international travel to either measles-endemic countries or countries where large outbreaks are occurring. Of the 139 case-patients who were U.S. residents, 86 were unvaccinated, 30 had undocumented vaccination status, 11 received one dose of MMR vaccine, 11 received two doses and had received three documented doses.

Measles is a highly contagious acute viral illness transmitted by contact with an infected person through sneezing and coughing. The virus can remain contagious for up to two hours on surfaces and in the air after an infected person leaves a location.