In the decade after Merck began selling its chickenpox vaccine in the U.S. the proportion of infants immunized against the virus rose to almost 90%. Yet immunized kids continued to catch chickenpox and the virus even killed two people who had received the vaccine. This week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on the success of the strategy it adopted to prevent such cases.
While polio has been eradicated across much of the earth, other viruses from the same family continue to circulate. Many infections are mild or even asymptomatic, but occasionally the viruses can cause the paralysis associated with polio. Over the past 18 months, Stanford University researchers have identified 20 possible cases in California.
The resurgence of H7N9 in recent months has pushed the death toll from the virus up past 70, but so far the bird flu has been mainly limited to bird-to-human transmission on mainland China. However, the seasonal circulation of H7N9 is putting it into contact with other flu viruses, and researchers fear a more contagious, virulent strain could result.
Since eliminating indigenous measles, the U.S. has experienced few cases of the disease. Then in 2011 the country suffered a spate of outbreaks. While most of the disease clusters were small, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention staffers estimate the cost of managing them was up to $5.3 million.
Since 2000, the Measles & Rubella Initiative has vaccinated 1 billion children in mass immunization campaigns.
The National Adult Vaccination Program and others have proposed strategies to raise the proportion of adults getting vaccinated against pneumococcal disease, shingles and hepatitis B, but the latest data shows little change in immunization rates.
Blogs and social media chatter often paint liberals, particularly Whole Foods-shopping, "earth mother" types, as the lead proponents of the anti-vaccine movement. Yet this view has been contradicted by surveys in the past, and was once again revealed to be flawed by data published this week.
The New York Review of Books has taken a detailed look at the emerging polio crisis in Syria, digging into the current situation and its causes.
The Council on Foreign Relations has attempted to make sense of the stream of news articles about disease outbreaks by plotting the outbreaks they report on an interactive map.
Researchers have blamed the rising incidence of whooping cough in recent decades on a myriad of factors, from the weaknesses of acellular vaccines to parents' decisions to delay immunizations. Fully reversing the trend will likely involve multiple factors too, but lawmakers could begin the process with one action--tightening rules on nonmedical exemptions from vaccinations.