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Am J Public Health. 2000 Oct;90(10):1521-5.

Measles eradication: is it in our future?

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National Immunization Program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Ga. 30333, USA.


Measles eradication would avert the current annual 1 million deaths and save the $1.5 billion in treatment and prevention costs due to measles in perpetuity. The authors evaluate the biological feasibility of eradicating measles according to 4 criteria: (1) the role of humans in maintaining transmission, (2) the availability of accurate diagnostic tests, (3) the existence of effective vaccines, and (4) the need to demonstrate elimination of measles from a large geographic area. Recent successes in interrupting measles transmission in the United States, most other countries in the Western Hemisphere, and selected countries in other regions provide evidence for the feasibility of global eradication. Potential impediments to eradication include (1) lack of political will in some industrialized countries, (2) transmission among adults, (3) increasing urbanization and population density, (4) the HIV epidemic, (5) waning immunity and the possibility of transmission from subclinical cases, and (6) risk of unsafe injections. Despite these challenges, a compelling case can be made in favor of measles eradication, and the authors believe that it is in our future. The question is when.

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