Only one disease has ever been completely eradicated:
Smallpox was officially eradicated in 1977, with the last case occurring in Somalia. One more person contracted the disease a year later in a laboratory accident [source: World Health Organization].
Edward Jenner has gone down in the history books for inventing the first vaccine that helped eliminate the smallpox virus.
Edward Jenner was an English scientist, who in 1796, injected a boy with the puss from cowpox, a less lethal version of smallpox, which caused him to develop immunity to smallpox. This was the development of the world's first vaccine.
No preventative medicine has yet been developed to stop people from acquiring polio.
Poliomyelitis, or polio, is an acute viral infection that can enter the central nervous system and lead to muscle weakness and paralysis. It is now on the verge of eradication due to a vaccine developed in the 1950s.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is helping combat polio by donating more than $100 million for vaccines in Africa and Asia.
This powerful, philanthropic organization is helping raise awareness and capital to fight the disease.
The continent of Asia faces the greatest risk of malaria, the mosquito-borne disease that causes nearly 1 million deaths each year.
Africa is at the greatest risk, where 20 percent of childhood deaths is caused by malaria.
Malaria prophylaxis is the best way to avoid contracting malaria for those living in countries with a high occurrence of the disease.
The best remedies are much less expensive and include using mosquito netting around the bed, and applying mosquito repellent.
Lymphatic filariasis is a parasitic disease caused by microscopic thread-like worms.
People with lymphatic filariasis can suffer lymphedema and elephantiasis, which both cause an extremely uncomfortable swelling of body parts.
Cysicercosis, or pork tapeworm, is caused by living in close proximity to pigs.
It's actually caused by consuming partially cooked pork that is infected with the tapeworm.
Children in the United States are immunized with the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine before entering school.
One of the reasons is because two out of every 1,000 children die from measles.
Measles is so contagious, 90 percent of those exposed to the disease who are not immune will catch it.
Measles is an extremely contagious illness that spreads through the air from the infected person either coughing or sneezing. Another person breathes in the virus and falls sick.
German measles is the nickname for mumps.
German measles is actually the nickname for rubella, because the disease was first noted by German doctors in the 1700s.
The MMR vaccine stands for measles, mumps and rheumatoid arthritis.
The MMR vaccine is for measles, mumps and rubella.
The acronym WHO stands for World Health Organization.
When diplomats formed the United Nations in 1945, they discussed the creation of a global health organization, which a few years later became the WHO.
Scurvy is a disease caused by an iodine deficiency.
Scurvy is caused by a lack of Vitamin C in the diet. Iodine deficiency can cause goiter.
According to the WHO, iodine deficiency is the single greatest preventable cause of mental retardation.
True and iodine deficiency still affects 2 billion people worldwide.
Onchocerciasis is a parasitic disease common in sub-Saharan Africa that can lead to blindness.
It is also known as river blindness because it is contracted through the bite of blackflies that accumulate near bodies of water.
"The reduction of an infectious disease's prevalence in the global population to zero," is the definition for disease elimination.
When a disease's prevalence is reduced to zero, it is considered eradicated. Disease elimination is when the incidence of a disease is reduced to a negligible amount.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is based in Atlanta, Ga., and has focused on disease eradication for many decades.
The Center's International Task Force for Disease Eradication was developed in 1988 to evaluate the potential eradicability of diseases.
Malaria is another global epidemic that is now on the verge of eradication.
Approximately 250 million people get sick with malaria each year, and every 30 seconds a child dies of the disease. Malaria is still a long way from eradication.
Quinine, a medicinal bark, is one of the most effective anti-malarial drugs available today.
Quinine is one of the ingredients in tonic water, which was used to prevent malaria. Tonic water drank in India in 1700s to prevent malaria was extremely strong and people added gin to cut the bitter taste. This was the beginning of the famous beverage, the gin and tonic.
It's a noble and difficult endeavor to eradicate diseases. Yet, a number of organizations and a host of people are dedicating their lives to just that and in turn, millions of lives are being saved. See if you know which diseases may one day be eradicated.
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