Feature

Is measles next?

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Science  29 May 2015:
Vol. 348, Issue 6238, pp. 958-963
DOI: 10.1126/science.348.6238.958

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Summary

Before the polio virus is even in the grave, a small cadre of disease fighters is itching to set the next global eradication target: measles. The case is compelling. Measles killed 145,000 children last year in poor countries and left many more blind, deaf, or disabled. A cheap and effective vaccine has long been on the shelves; numerous expert panels have deemed measles eradication feasible, although daunting—it is the most contagious virus on Earth. But the biggest obstacle to measles eradication is polio, which hasn't disappeared as it was supposed to do in 2000. Skeptics question whether a measles initiative would fall down the same rabbit hole as did the polio effort, which has spent billions of dollars and nearly 3 decades chasing the last few cases, only to see them disappear around the corner. Maybe it is time, they say, to settle for keeping measles cases really low but not trying to get to zero.