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History of Disease Eradication

Immunization is one of the most successful public health achievements of the 20th century. Due to systematic vaccination programs, smallpox has been eliminated worldwide, and cases of polio, measles, diphtheria and Hib are at all-time lows. The burden of other diseases has been significantly reduced.

 

Diptheria

Diphtheria is a serious bacterial disease that frequently causes heart and nerve problems. Without treatment, 40 to 50 percent of infected persons die, with the highest death rates occurring in the very young and the elderly.

Haemophilus Influenzae type B (Hib)

Prior to the vaccine, Hib meningitis killed 600 children each year, and caused seizures among many survivors as well as permanent deafness, and mental retardation. Since the vaccine's introduction in 1987, the incidence of Hib has declined by 98 percent in the United States.

Hepatitis A

Each year in the United States hepatitis A infection causes 125,000 to 200,000 people to become sick with 70 to 100 resulting deaths. Hepatitis A disease tends to occur in outbreaks sometimes attributed to many people having eaten from the same infected food source or transmission from person to person in family settings.

Hepatitis B

National studies show that about 12.5 million Americans have been infected with hepatitis B virus at some point in their lifetime. Over 10 percent of infected individuals develop chronic infection, increasing chances for chronic liver disease, cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Human Pappilomavirus (HPV)

Approximately 20 million Americans are currently infected with HPV, and another 6.2 million people become newly infected each year. At least 50 percent of sexually active men and women acquire genital HPV infection at some point in their lives.

Influenza

In an average year, the flu causes 36,000 deaths and 148,000 hospitalizations in the United States. Historically, complications from the flu occur in up to 25 percent of those who contract the disease and can include severe bacterial pneumonia and dehydration.

Measles

In the U.S., roughly one in five people who develop measles require hospitalization for one or more complications from the disease. Widespread introduction of vaccine has resulted in a reduction of measles incidence from 894,134 cases in 1941 to 89 cases in 1998, and only 44 cases in 2002.

Meningococcal disease

Meningococcal disease is a serious bacterial illness, and is a leading cause of bacterial meningitis in children two through 18 years old in the United States. About 1,000 - 2,600 people get meningococcal disease each year in the U.S. and 10-15 percent of these people die.

Mumps

Prior to the mumps vaccine, the U.S. suffered approximately 200,000 cases of mumps per year with 20 to 30 deaths. Since a second dose of mumps vaccine was added to the standard childhood MMR series, annual cases are now in the hundreds rather than the thousands.

Pertussis

Also known as whooping cough, pertussis is highly contagious and can result in prolonged coughing spells that may last for many weeks or even months. Approximately 50 out of every 10,000 people who develop pertussis die from the disease.

Pneumococcal

Pneumococcal bacterium is spread by coughing and sneezing. It is the most common cause of pneumonia, inflammation of the coverings of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis), bloodstream infection (sepsis), ear infections and sinus infections (sinusitis) in children under 2 years of age.

Polio

Before the polio vaccine was available, an average of 50,000 polio cases were reported in the U.S. each year. Polio was one of the most dreaded childhood diseases of the 20th century. Thanks to the discovery of the vaccine, polio has been eradicated from the U.S.

Rotavirus

Rotavirus is a disease of the digestive tract caused by any one of three strains of rotavirus. Infection causes acute gastroenteritis (vomiting and diarrhea), and humans of all ages are susceptible to rotavirus infection.

Rubella

Before the rubella vaccine was introduced, widespread outbreaks mostly affected children in the 5-9 year age group. Between 1962 and 1965, rubella infections during pregnancy were estimated to have caused 30,000 still births and 20,000 children to be born impaired or disabled.

Smallpox

Smallpox is immunization's greatest success story to date, as this dreaded disease has been eradicated from the world. Historically up to 30 percent of those infected died from the disease.

Tetanus

Commonly known as lockjaw, tetanus is a severe disease that causes stiffness and spasms of the muscles, with approximately 30 percent of reported cases ending in death. Tetanus bacteria grow in soil and can therefore never be eradicated.

Varicella/Chickenpox

Although generally mild, varicella (chickenpox) is a highly contagious virus that can lead to severe illness with complications such as secondary bacterial infections, severe dehydration, pneumonia, central nervous system irregularities and shingles.