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Michigan has first measles case since 2019 as cases climb nationwide

Measles is highly contagious, but vaccines offer protection. Up to 90% of the people who are close to an infected person — family members, for example — will get measles as well unless they have immunity. (Shutterstock)
  • Michigan has detected its first case of measles, a highly contagious virus, since 2019
  • The Oakland County case was ‘associated with international travel,’ health officials say
  • Across the U.S., another 35 cases confirmed this year. Experts believe the Michigan case is contained.

An Oakland County child has tested positive for measles, the first confirmed case in Michigan since 2019 and part of a national upswing in cases.

The case is “associated with international travel,” according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Health officials also believe the case has been contained to the household.


The highly contagious virus lives in the air for up to two hours after infected people are present, and the case comes as Michigan’s childhood immunizations have dropped. 

Without immunity, about 9 in 10 people who are exposed to the virus will also be infected. Among unvaccinated people, about 1 in 5 who get measles will be hospitalized, according to the National Foundation for Infectious Disease.


A single dose of vaccine is about 93% effective at preventing measles, while two doses are about 97% effective, according to the state health department.

In Michigan, rates of vaccine coverage against measles, mumps and rubella — a vaccine known as the MMR — dropped from 89% in 2017 to 84% in 2022. Among children 19 months through 35 months of age, vaccine coverage slipped from 84.7% in April 2020 to 83.6% in December, according to the state health department.

Measles can be infectious at any age, but children under 5 are among those most susceptible, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Symptoms usually begin seven days to 14 days after exposure, but can appear up to 21 days after exposure and may include:

  • High fever that may spike to 104 degrees or higher
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Red, watery eyes
  • Tiny white spots on the inner cheeks, gums and roof of the mouth two to three days after symptoms begin.
  • A red, raised, blotchy rash that usually starts on the face, then spreads to the trunk, arms and legs

People with symptoms should call ahead to doctor’s offices or emergency rooms before arrival so that the facilities can take precautions to prevent exposure by other patients.

In addition to Michigan’s case, 35 other measles cases have been reported this year in 15 other states, including neighboring Ohio and Indiana, according to the CDC. Given the increase, the agency alerted doctors and other clinicians in January to be alert for cases.

In 2019, 46 Michiganders were infected with measles, part of a national outbreak of 1,274 cases that year.

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