First is the “old”…North Carolina is currently experiencing an outbreak of measles. The count is now up to 19 affected in several different counties. The outbreak has been traced to an unvaccinated individual who recently retruned from India, highlighting the fact that infectious diseases know no borders. This outbreak has prompted the state to offer a free clinic where residents can get am MMR vaccine. A licensed vaccine to prevent measles first became available in 1963, with an improved vaccine in 1968. Vaccines for the mumps and rubella (German measles) became available in 1967 and 1969, respectively. The three vaccines (for mumps, measles, and rubella) were combined in 1971 to become the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. This outbreak comes just a few weeks after a much larger outbreak in Wales, clearly demonstrating that this ‘old’ disease is unfortunately, still a current public health concern.
As for “new”, recent outbreaks of H7N9 avian flu have prompted scientists to quickly develop a comprehensive vaccine agains the virulent strain of the virus. At the recent NFID Annual Conference on Vaccine Research, Dr. Kathleen M. Neuzil from Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH) spoke with Infectious Disease News regarding the new influenza strain. You can watch the full interview here.
Both of these situations remind us that both the past and the future are ever-present in the vaccine world.
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