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Measles Eliminated From the Americas for Good

Health By
MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 28: In this photo illustration, a bottle containing a measles vaccine is seen at the Miami Children's Hospital on January 28, 2015 in Miami, Florida. A recent outbreak of measles has some doctors encouraging vaccination as the best way to prevent measles and its spread. (Photo illustration by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

 

When Jonas Salk discovered and developed the vaccine for polio, it eventually helped eliminate the infectious disease from the U.S. Now, we can add measles to that list.

After a 22-year public health effort, it was announced Sept. 27 that measles had been completely eradicated not only from the U.S. but the rest of the Americas. In a translated statement, Carissa Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization, lauded the effort:

Today is a historic day for our region and certainly for the world. [It] is proof of the remarkable success that can be achieved when countries work together in solidarity to achieve a common goal….This milestone would never have been possible without the strong political commitment of our member states to ensure that all children have access to life-saving vaccines. It would not have been possible without the generosity and commitment of health workers and volunteers who have worked hard to bring the benefits of vaccines to all people, including vulnerable and hard to reach communities.

This marks the fifth time an infectious disease has been completely eliminated from the Americas, following rubella and congenital rubella syndrome in 2015, polio in 1994, and smallpox in 1971. Prior to the measles vaccination being released to the masses in 1980, the disease killed nearly 3 million people worldwide on an annual basis.

For more on the eradication of measles, click here.