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Measles: We Dare Not Loose Vigilance


One of the greatest challenges in public health is forgetfulness. We forget that just until the 1960s, measles was consistently one of the leading causes of death among children worldwide, accounting for an estimated 20 to 30 percent of such deaths. Today, measles nevertheless continues to be a leading cause of vaccine-preventable childhood mortality, despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine. Some 134,200 people died from measles in 2015 – mostly children under the age of 5.


Like smallpox, measles could, in theory, be completely eradicated. Measles virus does not infect other species or survive in the environment. However, because measles continues to be more prevalent and more infectious than smallpox, and because there is substantial transmission of measles virus among infants below the age of routine vaccination, eradication of measles will be more difficult to achieve. Our continued best hope for control remains vigilant vaccination and outbreak control.


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