The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that their efforts to eradicate measles, one of the most contagious diseases around the world, has finally ended 50 years after the vaccine first became available.

Measles is a viral disease notorious for being a leading cause of death among young children, responsible for over 100,000 deaths globally each year. Access to vaccination, however, led to a 79-percent drop in measles-related deaths between 2000 to 2014.

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The effort to eliminate measles in the U.S. started as early as 1994, and today, America has been declared as the first region to effectively eliminate the disease via stringent nationwide vaccination programs and political commitment. This means that, for at least 12 months, the country has had no cases of measles originating within its borders.

“This is a historic day for our region and indeed the world,” said Carissa Etienne, Director of the Pan American Health Organization, which is part of the WHO. “It is proof of the remarkable success that can be achieved when countries work together in solidarity towards a common goal.”

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