Chapter 1Before the Measles Vaccine
910Measles and Smallpox Described Separately
1657Measles Appears in Boston
1757Infectious Nature of Measles Shown
Scottish physician Francis Home, MD, transmitted measles from infected patients to healthy individuals via blood, demonstrating that the disease was caused by an infectious agent.
“…Francis Home… attempted to produce mild measles by mimicking the variolation process. This process involved taking blood from an infected patient and inoculating it through the skin of an uninfected person. In this way he was able to transfer measles to ten of twelve patients. This experiment clearly demonstrated the presence of measles virus in human blood…”
Chapter 2Work Begins on a Measles Vaccine
1954Thomas Peebles Isolates the Measles Virus
October 15, 1958First Measles Vaccine Is Tested
Sam Katz, MD, an infectious disease specialist working with Thomas Peebles and other researchers in the Boston lab, tested the first version of the lab’s vaccine on developmentally delayed and disabled children at a school outside of Boston. Each of the 11 vaccinated children developed measles antibodies, but nine also developed a mild rash—the vaccine didn’t cause full-blown measles, but it did cause symptoms. The researchers realized the virus used for the vaccine had to be weakened even more.
February 8, 1960One Measles Strain, Many Vaccine Attempts
1961A Flock of Chickens Changes Everything
1962A Killed-Virus Vaccine Fails
1968A More Attenuated Measles Vaccine
Chapter 3Measles Vaccine Success
1971MMR Combination Vaccine Debuts
1989Low Vaccination Rates Lead to Outbreaks
2000Endemic Measles Eliminated From U.S.
Continuous transmission of measles was halted in the United States. However, U.S. residents remained at risk for infection from imported cases.
Chapter 4Post-Elimination Measles Emergence
December 31, 2008American Measles Outbreaks Increase
2011Measles in France, United States
January 31, 2015Measles Spreads from Disneyland
December 31, 2014A Record Year for Measles in Elimination Era
The CDC reported 644 cases of measles in 2014, the highest number of U.S. cases in any year since measles was declared eliminated in 2000. December ended with a threat that would extend into 2015: between December 15 and December 20, visitors to Disneyland in Anaheim, California, were exposed to measles by an as-yet-unidentified index case. Cases quickly spread as primary contacts returned home and spread the illness to secondary contacts across the country. A small, unrelated outbreak of measles in Mitchell, South Dakota, added to the case count as the year ended.