Across the world, there are countless people dealing with a number of different diseases every day. Whether it be a minor illness or something more serious, they can rely on their doctors to help them get better. But in previous years, one ailment in particular proved to be incredibly prevalent.
That condition is measles – and it has affected millions of people in various countries around the globe, with the U.S. recording some shocking figures. Prior to the early 1960s, around three to four million individuals contracted the extremely contagious disease every year, according to the Public Health Foundation. However, things really started to change from 1963 onwards.
At that point, a measles vaccination was made available to the U.S. public, before another inoculation came out some five years later. From there, the sheer number of victims dropped rapidly in the next few decades, proving the effectiveness of the shot. And by the year 2000, a significant milestone was reached.
During that period, it was revealed that the illness had been completely eradicated in the United States.. But in April 2019, the virus returned in a big way, with more than 600 people contracting it across the country. So on that note, Dr. Marc Siegel had a message for those who were born from 1963 to 1967.
In certain continents, some diseases are more prominent than others, especially when compared to places such as the U.S. and Britain. Measles definitely fits into that particular category, as it continues to affect countries in Asia and Africa. Incredibly, the illness itself can be traced all the way back to the sixth century.
Indeed, it’s believed that the contagious virus developed around the turn of 500 AD. However, the first recorded document didn’t emerge for another few hundred years. At that point, a Persian doctor by the name of Rhazes released a guide that delved into the intricacies of the illness. And the publication was titled The Book of Smallpox and Measles.
While measles is definitely treatable now, it can still cause some serious problems for certain people. In a worst-case scenario, it can lead to issues such as brain inflammation and pneumonia. So with that in mind, a number of countries have been hit hard by the virus over the last several centuries.
For example, after dealing with smallpox, the population of Cuba faced down the spread of measles in 1529. In an eye-opening statistic, most of the people who were cured of the former eventually died when they contracted the latter disease. However, Cuba wasn’t the only country to be affected during that period.
In 1531 Honduras suffered some catastrophic losses following an outbreak of measles, with around 50 percent of the populace passing away. In addition to that, areas such as Central America and Mexico also struggled to deal with the illness. As time went on, though, the death toll didn’t show signs of slowing down.
Elsewhere, Hawaii was hit hard by the disease in the mid-1800s, losing a large number of people as a result. Then around 20 years later, Fiji then recorded a death total of more than 40,000 individuals. Off the back of those shocking figures, the U.S. authorities were forced to take action in the early 20th century.
“In 1912 measles became a nationally notifiable disease in the United States,” read a post on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website. It continued, “[This required] U.S. healthcare providers and laboratories to report all diagnosed cases. In the first decade of reporting, an average of 6,000 measles-related deaths were reported each year.”
According to the CDC, most of the child population in the United States had caught the illness at one time or another prior to the 1960s. Alongside that, the agency revealed that there were up to four million cases of measles being reported every 12 months. But the startling statistics didn’t end there.
“Also each year, among reported cases, an estimated 400 to 500 people died, 48,000 were hospitalized, and 1,000 suffered encephalitis (swelling of the brain) from measles,” the CDC post continued. On that note, doctors had been searching for a vaccine to deal with the disease. And by the mid-1950s, two men had finally made a breakthrough.
“In 1954 John F. Enders and Dr. Thomas C. Peebles collected blood samples from several ill students during a measles outbreak in Boston, Massachusetts,” the post said. “They wanted to isolate the measles virus in the students’ blood and create a measles vaccine. They succeeded in isolating measles in 13-year-old David Edmonston’s blood.”
Following that significant moment, Enders and Dr. Peebles spent the next nine years working on the vaccination. Using the sample they collected from Edmonston, the pair looked to develop a shot that would prevent the future spread of measles. And with that in mind, they shared their results in the early 1960s.
“In 1963 John Enders and colleagues transformed their Edmonston-B strain of measles virus into a vaccine and licensed it in the United States,” the CDC reported. It added, “In 1968, an improved and even weaker measles vaccine, developed by Maurice Hilleman and colleagues, began to be distributed. This vaccine has been the only measles vaccine used in the United States since 1968.”
A few years on from that major breakthrough, the CDC started to display some lofty ambitions. Indeed, at the back-end of the 1970s, the medical agency looked to rid the U.S. of the disease completely. They aimed to reach that particular target within four years, with 1982 marking the end date.
“Although this goal was not met, widespread use of [the] measles vaccine drastically reduced the disease rates,” read the post on the CDC website. “By 1981 the number of reported measles cases was 80 percent less compared with the previous year.” Despite that success, though, the hard work didn’t end there.
After developing the original inoculation, it was eventually merged into a new vaccination that also prevented rubella and mumps. Since then, the shot has been known as the MMR vaccine. But as the 1980s was coming to an end, a big change was enforced regarding the dosage of the medicine.
In 1989 a number of young children contracted measles, despite taking the MMR vaccination. Off the back of that, three different medical organizations suggested that youngsters across the U.S. should now receive two shots instead. And that proposal proved particularly significant, as the CDC continued its fight against the contagious disease.
“Following widespread implementation of this recommendation and improvements in first-dose MMR vaccine coverage, reported measles cases declined even more,” the CDC post continued. With that in mind, the agency shared some fascinating figures about the vaccination on its website. Compared to the troublesome statistics of the past, they show the progress that’s been made since then.
“[The] CDC recommends children get two doses of [the] MMR vaccine,” read an additional post on the agency’s website. “Starting with the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age, and the second dose at four through six years of age. Two doses of [the] MMR vaccine are about 97 percent effective at preventing measles. One dose is about 93 percent effective.”
Meanwhile, the CDC finally reached its target in the year 2000, as the United States was rid of measles at that point. However, there were still some reported instances of the disease throughout the next 11 years. Indeed, just over 900 people contracted the illness during that period, proving the overall effectiveness of the vaccine.
However, in the last few years, those numbers have been steadily increasing. Over the course of 12 months in 2018, more than 270 Americans caught the virus, before an even bigger outbreak occurred in 2019. By the middle of April, over 620 people had contracted measles, the most since the CDC hit its goal in 2000.
As a result of those numbers, a physician named Dr. Marc Siegel made an appearance on Fox News to discuss the situation in April 2019. He admitted, “It’s going to get a lot worse. And it’s easily going to break the record for the most measles cases since we wiped it out here in the United States in 2000.”
From there, Dr. Siegel expanded on that latter point, making a startling claim along the way. He continued, “We’re going to end up with double the amount of cases we have now. We’re going to end up with over 1,000 cases.” And on that note, the physician then had a message for certain members of the public.
“The Centers for Disease Control is telling people out there, if you were born in the 1960s, get checked by your physician to see if you’re immune,” Dr. Siegel explained on Fox News. “Because you may have [received] a vaccine that doesn’t work that well. You may need another one.”
At that stage, Dr. Siegel clarified that the people who received an inoculation between 1963 and 1967 would be in that category. He said, “After ‘67, they were only giving one shot out, then the MMR came in ‘71 and ‘89 they started giving two shots. If [you got a shot in] ‘63 to ‘67, you may not be immune at all.”
With that in mind, Dr. Siegel also suggested that people who were vaccinated before 1989 should get checked as well. As it turned out, he had a right to be concerned, with one person speaking out about their ordeal. A rabbi named Tzali Freeman caught measles while working in Detroit, Michigan, despite receiving a vaccine previously.
“We had been exposed to measles believing we were fully immunized when, in actuality, we were not,” said Freeman in a YouTube video in April 2019. “Before we knew it, we had a first wave of 20 people in our community with measles, almost all of them [between] the ages of 30 and 62.”
Freeman added, “While a few had a mild case, for most of us it was a brutal three weeks.” Meanwhile, Dr. Siegel offered the American public some more advice during his time on Fox News. After outlining who could still be at risk, he spoke about the measles situation in other countries across the world.
“There are three-times the amount of measles cases around the world than there were at this time last year,” Dr. Siegel revealed. “Africa is getting killed with measles. [There are] over 100,000 cases in Madagascar and the Republic of the Congo. Israel has over 2,000 cases, which is why we’re seeing travelers from Israel bringing it back to New York and to Michigan.”
On that note, Dr. Siegel referred back to his previous point regarding the check-ups, especially if someone was preparing to head abroad. He continued, “Asia and Africa are hot areas for measles, and again the Middle East,” he continued. “If you’re traveling there, check with your physician to check your immunity! [It] might have worn off.”
From there, Dr. Siegel focused his attention on another serious matter. Due to the sheer number of measles cases in New York City, mayor Bill de Blasio declared a public health emergency in April 2019. That meant all local residents had to get an MMR shot, but there was some pushback.
Back in the 1990s physicians were left puzzled when more and more people were being diagnosed with autism. As they attempted to uncover the answer, a man named Andrew Wakefield compiled a research paper on the subject. In his opinion, the issue could be traced back to the measles vaccination.
However, while Wakefield’s work was eventually disproven, a number of people still believed the results. So following de Blasio’s announcement in the spring, several “anti-vaxxers” refused to get the MMR shot. Furthermore, they also looked to sue the city for pushing the inoculation on local residents.
With that in mind, Dr. Siegel weighed in on the growing MMR controversy. He told Fox News, “I also want to remind people that we’re trying to protect people who can’t get the measles vaccine. People who have autoimmune diseases, people who had chemotherapy, pregnant women can’t get it.”
Dr. Siegel’s passionate words didn’t end there, though. He continued, “Very young children can’t get [the MMR vaccination]. It’s public responsibility to get it. And so when I talk about personal liberty, I talk about protecting the person next to you. That’s why Bill de Blasio and the Rockland County executive are trying to clamp down on people who are not being compliant.”
After Dr. Siegel stated that the anti-vaxxers are “putting others at risk,” a statement from the Food and Drug Administration was read aloud. The message said, “We cannot say [this] strongly enough. The overwhelming scientific evidence shows that vaccines are among the most effective and safest interventions to prevent this illness.”
Off the back of that, Dr. Siegel then had one more thing to say on the matter before ending the interview with Fox News. He concluded, “[Vaccinations are] the greatest public health advance of the 20th century. It’s saving millions of lives… Get your vaccination.”