5 diseases that have almost disappeared because of vaccines

We have come a long way – it is true when you look at it from the perspective of development in medical infrastructure. Back then, misery, suffering and death were what the diseases caused. The Spanish flu, Encephalitis Lethargica, Smallpox and Cholera are some of the worst examples of epidemics the country has faced since the 1900s.  But now, as we have progressed, and witnessed the medical infrastructure and healthcare development, we have also seen various cures in the form of vaccines coming up for the most severe diseases in mankind.  Back then, the people would only hope for such cures. Now, we have it in our hands and they are easily accessible to the public. Thanks to these cures and vaccines, some diseases have almost vanished from their very existence.  Today, we are going to talk about those diseases in detail.  Polio Flipping back the pages of childhood, you must remember going to the medical camps for polio doses. Polio is a potentially deadly infectious disease that causes crippling and paralysis.  It is caused by poliovirus, which is highly contagious and spreads from person to person (coughing, sneezing, or coming in contact with the faeces of the infected). It may cause mild symptoms but sometimes, it can be severe enough to cause paralysis when it reaches the brain and spinal cord.  The first polio epidemic was in 1894. It was around the 1950s when the vaccine for polio was developed by Dr. Salk. Around 16,000 cases were detected in the USA every year, which has now come down to 0 in 2023 – all thanks to the polio vaccine.  Even though polio has been eliminated from the USA, it is still prevalent in some countries, including Pakistan and Afghanistan. India was certified polio-free in the year 2014.  Chickenpox  There is no denying that chickenpox is still prevalent. You may have seen your family members, or friends come in contact with the disease. Although chickenpox hasn’t been completely eradicated, the situation has improved significantly over the years. Chickenpox and smallpox were not separated until the late 19th century. The disease dates back to the 1690s when the term was first used.  It is a highly contagious disease characterised by blisters. A person infected with chickenpox can have as many as 500 blisters that can spread through contact. It is a serious and life-threatening disease that can be caused by varicella zoster virus.  Chickenpox vaccines have been exceedingly helpful in controlling the outbreak. The disease is rarely fatal, as against the situation centuries ago. Doctors recommend two doses of the vaccine to children. They must be administered to children at an early age.  Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B You must have heard of the vaccines Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B, but may not have heard about the diseases. These vaccines are administered to children to prevent them from the infection.  Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that is transmitted through human contact or through contaminated water and food. The vaccine was developed in 1995 and has affected the number of cases drastically.  Hepatitis B is a serious disease affecting babies. It spreads through blood or bodily fluids. About 9/10 of the infants who contract it from mothers become chronically infected – all the reasons why babies must get the first dose of the vaccine shortly after birth. H1N1 flu The world is not unfamiliar with the devastation of the H1N1 flu pandemic.  After all, it was one of the most severe pandemics of all time. It was caused by H1N1 virus and was a respiratory illness that infected the lungs, nose and throat.  It is often called swine flu and is a new combination of influenza viruses that infect pigs, birds and humans. H1N1 became a pandemic in 2009 when it caused over 2,480,000 deaths worldwide.  In 2010, the pandemic was declared over but the flu strain from the pandemic became one of the strains that caused and still causes seasonal flu. While most people having the flu get better with time, its complications can be deadly, especially if someone is at high risk. The seasonal flu vaccine can help protect against the H1N1 flu and other major seasonal flu viruses. Measles  Measles is another contagious disease that can be serious for young children.  The disease dates back to the 6th century. Although measles has now been eradicated from most parts of the world, it can still be contracted while travelling.  The disease is caused by a virus in the paramyxovirus family and is usually transmitted through direct contact or air. The virus infects the respiratory tract, and gradually spreads throughout the body, causing complications and even death.  The virus is still prevalent in India with 172 cases reported between 2021-22. India has set a target to eliminate measles by 2023. The vaccine for measles is available and must b

5 diseases that have almost disappeared because of vaccines

We have come a long way – it is true when you look at it from the perspective of development in medical infrastructure. Back then, misery, suffering and death were what the diseases caused. The Spanish flu, Encephalitis Lethargica, Smallpox and Cholera are some of the worst examples of epidemics the country has faced since the 1900s. 

But now, as we have progressed, and witnessed the medical infrastructure and healthcare development, we have also seen various cures in the form of vaccines coming up for the most severe diseases in mankind. 

Back then, the people would only hope for such cures. Now, we have it in our hands and they are easily accessible to the public. Thanks to these cures and vaccines, some diseases have almost vanished from their very existence. 

Today, we are going to talk about those diseases in detail. 

Polio

Flipping back the pages of childhood, you must remember going to the medical camps for polio doses. Polio is a potentially deadly infectious disease that causes crippling and paralysis.  It is caused by poliovirus, which is highly contagious and spreads from person to person (coughing, sneezing, or coming in contact with the faeces of the infected). It may cause mild symptoms but sometimes, it can be severe enough to cause paralysis when it reaches the brain and spinal cord. 

The first polio epidemic was in 1894. It was around the 1950s when the vaccine for polio was developed by Dr. Salk. Around 16,000 cases were detected in the USA every year, which has now come down to 0 in 2023 – all thanks to the polio vaccine. 

Even though polio has been eliminated from the USA, it is still prevalent in some countries, including Pakistan and Afghanistan. India was certified polio-free in the year 2014. 

Chickenpox 

There is no denying that chickenpox is still prevalent. You may have seen your family members, or friends come in contact with the disease. Although chickenpox hasn’t been completely eradicated, the situation has improved significantly over the years. Chickenpox and smallpox were not separated until the late 19th century. The disease dates back to the 1690s when the term was first used. 

It is a highly contagious disease characterised by blisters. A person infected with chickenpox can have as many as 500 blisters that can spread through contact. It is a serious and life-threatening disease that can be caused by varicella zoster virus. 

Chickenpox vaccines have been exceedingly helpful in controlling the outbreak. The disease is rarely fatal, as against the situation centuries ago. Doctors recommend two doses of the vaccine to children. They must be administered to children at an early age. 

Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B

You must have heard of the vaccines Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B, but may not have heard about the diseases. These vaccines are administered to children to prevent them from the infection. 

Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that is transmitted through human contact or through contaminated water and food. The vaccine was developed in 1995 and has affected the number of cases drastically. 

Hepatitis B is a serious disease affecting babies. It spreads through blood or bodily fluids. About 9/10 of the infants who contract it from mothers become chronically infected – all the reasons why babies must get the first dose of the vaccine shortly after birth.

H1N1 flu

The world is not unfamiliar with the devastation of the H1N1 flu pandemic.  After all, it was one of the most severe pandemics of all time. It was caused by H1N1 virus and was a respiratory illness that infected the lungs, nose and throat. 

It is often called swine flu and is a new combination of influenza viruses that infect pigs, birds and humans. H1N1 became a pandemic in 2009 when it caused over 2,480,000 deaths worldwide.  In 2010, the pandemic was declared over but the flu strain from the pandemic became one of the strains that caused and still causes seasonal flu.

While most people having the flu get better with time, its complications can be deadly, especially if someone is at high risk. The seasonal flu vaccine can help protect against the H1N1 flu and other major seasonal flu viruses.

Measles 

Measles is another contagious disease that can be serious for young children.  The disease dates back to the 6th century. Although measles has now been eradicated from most parts of the world, it can still be contracted while travelling. 

The disease is caused by a virus in the paramyxovirus family and is usually transmitted through direct contact or air. The virus infects the respiratory tract, and gradually spreads throughout the body, causing complications and even death. 

The virus is still prevalent in India with 172 cases reported between 2021-22. India has set a target to eliminate measles by 2023. The vaccine for measles is available and must be administered to children to protect them against the virus. 

Closing thoughts 

The remarkable impact of vaccines on public health cannot be overstated. Thanks to the collective efforts of medical researchers, healthcare professionals, and vaccination programs worldwide, several diseases that once posed significant threats to humanity are now on the brink of eradication. Through vaccination, diseases like polio, measles, and hepatitis B have been brought under control, saving countless lives and preventing immeasurable suffering. 

However, it is crucial to remain vigilant in maintaining high vaccination rates and supporting ongoing research to ensure these diseases remain in the annals of history. The triumph over these nearly vanquished diseases serves as a powerful reminder of the immense potential that vaccines hold in safeguarding global health and underscores the importance of continued investment in immunisation programs for a healthier and more resilient future.