Decades ago, a devastating global pandemic left millions dead... Survivors reported lifelong health complications... And the extremely contagious virus spread to nearly every country in the world.
Worse, it came back. Every two to three years a new major outbreak would sweep across nations, killing millions. Then, a vaccine saved millions of lives... and eventually eradicated a disease.
Can you guess the virus?
If you're younger, you've probably only heard of it, but for many of us we experienced measles firsthand.
It was within my lifetime that measles still raged throughout the world. Some medical historians trace the virus back all the way to the 12th century. When the Europeans colonized the Americas, they documented the perils of measles. And one of the plagues these settlers brought – along with things like smallpox and syphilis – sounds an awful lot like measles.
During the Civil War, an outbreak hit Union troops, infecting nearly 70,000 and killing 4,000.
Several medical journals estimate that prior to the mid-1900s, the virus killed 7 million to 8 million children every year worldwide.
Then in 1914, we got a more shocking number. Statistician Frederick Crum figured out that measles was responsible for more than 1% of all deaths in the temperate region. Roughly 23% of the world's population lives in the temperate region. It includes the U.S., Europe, most of Russia, and parts of Australia, China, and Argentina (just to name a few).
In 1961, Dr. John Enders, who also won a Nobel Prize a few years earlier for his work on polio, led a team to develop the first successful measles vaccine. In 1963, the vaccine became commercially available.
Take a look at how the death count dropped once doctors started to administer the vaccine...
Other countries began to get the vaccine as well and a worldwide drop followed. Soon, organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Pan American Health Organization campaigned to eliminate the virus with sweeping vaccination programs.
In 2000, the World Health Organization officially declared the virus eliminated in the U.S.
In recent years, measles has reappeared, most notably in poorer countries with no access to the vaccine. Just five countries report more than half of all cases: Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Liberia, Madagascar, Somalia, and Ukraine.
Since its elimination, we saw the number of deaths worldwide officially peak around 140,000 in 2018... a far cry from the millions that we faced each year prior to a vaccine.
We met the virus... We created a vaccine... And we eliminated the disease. It took hard work, ingenuity, and a lot of hope. Our accomplishment is a testament to the resiliency of the human spirit.
And it's that resiliency that will carry us through this current coronavirus pandemic. We're already at work on vaccine trials. The number of deaths per day is are lower than at the April peak. We know more about treatments, symptoms, and testing than we did then.
I know that we'll get a vaccine and that after this first wave, the virus will simply become another seasonal coronavirus like the others we get every single cold and flu season.
I know we'll bounce back because we've done it so many times before.
In my monthly flagship newsletter, Retirement Millionaire, we often look at the lessons of history to give us insight into current crises. I've covered things like the swine flu hysteria, the dangers of air pollution, and the dangers of statins long before the mainstream press caught on. And the reason I write about all of these big health crises is to empower my readers to take control of their own health.
The best way to persevere through the pandemic is to arm yourself with the best information so you can make the best decisions for you. And Retirement Millionaire gives you that information. In fact, in my most recent issue – published just last night – I told readers the key to staying healthy during the current pandemic.
Sign up today to learn how and to start taking control of your health and wealth.
What We're Reading...
- Death rates are dropping, despite what the press says.
- You can read Dr. Crum's 1914 paper here.
- Something different: Cougars, boars, and pelicans are taking over.
Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,
Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
August 13, 2020