Why Measles Continues to Plague Us

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TIME

This post is in partnership with the History News Network, the website that puts the news into historical perspective. The article below was originally published at HNN.

Not so long ago (2011) the world was declared officially free of the cattle disease, rinderpest. As with the 1980 eradication of human smallpox, the basic weapon was vaccination. The rinderpest virus and measles virus are very similar, perhaps diverging from a common ancestor about 1,000 years back. We’ve had effective measles vaccines for around 50 years and the world could, and should, be rid of measles. But, apart from the problem of getting vaccine into war zones and other problems in very poor nations, we are nowhere near doing that. Why is that so?

The latest outbreak associated with visitors to Disneyland is just one of continuing, sporadic events all over the advanced world. Measles is very infectious. Classically, a young…

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