News FocusGlobal Public Health

Scientists' New Eradication Target: A Word in Their Lexicon

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Science  24 Dec 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6012, pp. 1738-1739
DOI: 10.1126/science.330.6012.1738

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The debate over what constitutes disease eradication has been going on for decades. In trying to draw up a clean set of definitions, a 1997 forum said that "elimination" was to become the word for anything less than the global scale, while "eradication" was reserved for pathogens completely gone from the planet—except any remaining stocks in lab freezers, as is the case with the smallpox virus. The distinction created trouble from the start, however, and now a group of scientists has proposed eliminating the word elimination.