Page 33 - RU RWJ Medicine Magazine • Winter 2021
P. 33

By Kate O’Neill
Resistance Drives a Public Health Issue
The measles virus is one of the most highly contagious on earth. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Each case could start an outbreak, especially if undervaccinated groups are exposed.”
The virus, expelled by a cough, a sneeze, or even the breath of an infected person, lives for up to two hours, on a surface or airborne. A perfect model of virulence, it will infect nine out of every 10 nonimmune people with whom the infected person has contact.
Fortunately, in 1963, a safe, effective, and affordable measles vaccine became available. A decade later, a combination vaccine was developed, providing one-shot immunity against measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR). In the United States, the vaccine became a standard
part of a child’s 12-month checkup—reinforced by a booster at age 4 or 5. The vaccine was so successful that experts reasonably hoped measles would not only be contained by 1980, it would be eradicated in the United States by 2000 and globally by 2020.
Robert Wood Johnson | MEDICINE 31

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