A brief history of measles

April 2019

A doctor gives a measles vaccination to a boy at Fernbank School in Atlanta in 1962. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Source: Los Angeles Times

The number of cases of measles in the US is increasing while vaccination rates have been steadily dropping.

The History of Vaccines is an educational website created by The College of Physicians of Philadelphia to shed some light on topics related to vaccines:  the role they have played in the improvement of human health; some  of the controversies about vaccination; and some of the challenges and tragic events that have occurred in the use of vaccines.

See their post on the history of measles.


Rene F. Najera / The history of vaccines blog

According to the best evidence we have, measles makes its appearance somewhere between the 11th and 12th Centuries when the measles virus diverged (separated) from the rinderpest virus (a sort of measles of cattle that has been eradicated through vaccination). This probably happened when cattle herders spent just a little too much time with their cattle somewhere in the Middle East.

Before we go any further, you need to understand that measles is highly infectious. It’s, like, really infectious. One person can infect up to 18 other people, and the virus floats in the air for up to two (maybe four) hours where an infectious person has been. What’s worse, a person is infectious 3 to 5 days before the onset of the typical measles rash, and 1 to 2 days before the onset of fever. This means that a perfectly healthy-looking person can go around spreading measles and not even know they’re sick. Read full story

About vaccination in HCS-Manguinhos:

The Politics of Vaccination – The article about the yellow fever vaccine in Brazil was written by Jaime Benchimol, member of our scientific editorial council.

Brazilian researchers have successfully tested a vaccine for Chagas disease – Lab mice were observed after being infected with Chagas. While all animals that were not vaccinated died, 80% of those immunized survived.

La historia de la malaria en América Latina – Una nueva actualización epidemiológica de la Organización Panamericana de la Salud (OPS), emitida el 30 de enero de 2018, indica un aumento en el número de casos de malaria en las Américas durante 2016 y 2017. Lea más sobre la malaria en HCSM.

Carlos Chagas in the Amazon, 1913 – It reviews the 21 days expedition up the Yaco River, in Alto Purus, federal territory of Acre.

Las campañas de vacunación contra la viruela en México durante la década de 1940 – El artículo examina algunas transformaciones por las que atravesaron los programas mexicanos de vacunación al establecerse la Campaña Nacional contra la Viruela.

La erradicación de la malaria en México, 1956-1971 – Marcos Cueto analiza el desarrollo de la campaña de erradicación del paludismo en México en el marco de la Guerra Fría

El caso de la malaria en Colombia – El artículo muestra el proceso que condujo a la medicina colombiana al descubrimiento y aceptación de las causas de la enfermedad.

Two views on malaria – This research compares two views of malaria in the Amazon that coexisted side by side during the First Brazilian Republic (1889-1930).

The smallpox eradication program in India, 1960-1980 – This paper, published in 2007, re-assesses the smallpox eradication program in India and the main actors involved.

La polio en la Argentina – Novedad editorial: “Del alcanfor a la vacuna Sabin. La polio en la Argentina.” Un libro de Daniela Testa.

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