Measles cases in the U.S. just hit a two-decade high. In case you can’t already guess why, assistant surgeon general Dr. Anne Schuchat explains:
The current increase in measles cases is being driven by unvaccinated people.
From Aeon, Polio whack-a-mole:
The great allies of infectious diseases are no longer poverty, nor dirt, but the global anti-vaccination movement.
In 1988, India had over 200,000 cases of polio reported. For the past three years, they’ve had 0. At the end of this month, the WHO will announce the end of polio in India.
America experienced the height of polio in the 1940s and ’50s, when about 35,000 people became disabled every year. Fear and panic spread and parents were known to warn their children to not drink from public water fountains, avoid swimming pools and stay away from crowded public places like movie theaters. Perhaps the most famous case of polio in America was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the first president with a significant physical disability.
The development of the Salk and Sabine vaccines helped lead to eradication of polio in the United States in 1979. In India, too, vaccination was critical.
“There were three keys to our success,” Kapur says. “Immunize, immunize and immunize.”
Vaccines. And now my kids don’t die.
From Wired’s Matthieu Aikins: The Surge.
In 1988 there were 350,000 cases of polio worldwide. Last year there were 223. But getting all the way to zero will mean spending billions of dollars, penetrating the most remote regions of the globe, and facing down Taliban militants to get to the last unprotected children on earth.
See also: Imagining a post-antibiotics future.