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Volume 12, Number 4—April 2006
Etymologia

Etymologia: measles

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[me′zəlz]

Highly contagious disease caused by a virus of the genus Morbillivirus, marked by an eruption of distinct, red, circular spots. From the Middle Dutch masel, “blemish.” References to the disease date back to at least 700 ad, but the first recorded scientific description of measles was in the 10th century ad by the Persian physician Ibn Razi, who described it as “more dreaded than smallpox.” Prior to 1963, when the first measles vaccine was licensed, 3–4 million cases and 450 deaths occurred in the United States every year. Measles remains a primary cause of death in developing nations, where vitamin A deficiency is common. According to the World Health Organization, measles is the leading cause of vaccine-preventable death in children; it is responsible for ≈850,000 deaths each year.

Sources: Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary. 11th ed. Springfield (MA): Merriam-Webster Incorporated; 2003; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Measles history. Available from http://www.cdc.gov/nip/diseases/measles/history.htm; and World Health Organization. Measles mortality reduction and regional elimination. Available from http://www.who.int/vaccines-documents/DocsPDF01/www573.pdf.

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DOI: 10.3201/eid1204.et1204

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Table of Contents – Volume 12, Number 4—April 2006

Page created: January 23, 2012
Page updated: January 23, 2012
Page reviewed: January 23, 2012
The conclusions, findings, and opinions expressed by authors contributing to this journal do not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the authors' affiliated institutions. Use of trade names is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by any of the groups named above.
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