Health > Microbes > Viruses
> Vaccines, vaccination
vaccination against variola virus USA
varicella zoster virus > shingles > vaccine UK / USA
also known as herpes zoster,
is an infection of a nerve
and the skin around it.
It is caused
by the varicella-zoster virus,
which also causes chickenpox.
Shingles usually affects
a specific area
on one side of the body
and does not cross
over the midline of the body
(an imaginary line
running from between your eyes
down past the belly button).
The main symptom is a painful rash
that develops into itchy blisters
that contain particles of the
An episode of shingles
typically lasts around two to four weeks,
although around one in five people
go on to develop nerve pain
called postherpetic neuralgia
in the affected area of skin.
measles vaccine USA
German measles / rubella
causes only a mild illness in children,
with a rash and sometimes a fever.
But when pregnant women catch rubella,
their babies can develop serious birth defects,
like heart problems, blindness
and learning disabilities.
The virus can also trigger miscarriages
early in a pregnancy.
In the 1964-1965 rubella pandemic,
an estimated 50,000 pregnant women
in the United States
were exposed to rubella in pregnancy,
resulting in miscarriages, stillbirths,
and 20,000 babies born
with congenital rubella syndrome,
which caused blindness, deafness,
brain and heart damage.
At the height of the pandemic,
an estimated 1 out of every 100 babies
born in Philadelphia was afflicted.
A vaccine for rubella
was introduced in the 1970s,
so parents no longer
have to live in fear.
human papillomavirus HPV
the cause of most cervical cancer
UK / USA
The Real Threat of ‘Contagion’
September 11, 2011
The New York Times
By W. IAN LIPKIN
I ADMIT I was wary when I was
approached, late in 2008, about working on a movie with the director Steven
Soderbergh about a flulike pandemic. It seemed that every few years a filmmaker
imagined a world in which a virus transformed humans into flesh-eating zombies,
or scientists discovered and delivered the cure for a lethal infectious disease
in an impossibly short period of time.
Moviegoers might find fantasies like these entertaining, but for a microbe
hunter like me, who spends his days trying to identify the viruses that cause
dangerous diseases, the truth about the potential of global outbreaks is
Then I discovered that Mr. Soderbergh and the screenwriter on the project, Scott
Z. Burns, agreed with me. They were determined to make a movie — “Contagion,”
which opened this weekend — that didn’t distort reality but did convey the risks
that we all face from emerging infectious diseases.
Those risks are very real — and are increasing drastically. More than
three-quarters of all emerging infectious diseases originate when microbes jump
from wildlife to humans. Our vulnerability to such diseases has been heightened
by the growth in international travel and the globalization of food production.
In addition, deforestation and urbanization continue to displace wildlife,
increasing the probability that wild creatures will come in contact with
domesticated animals and humans.
When I was a kid, the launching of Sputnik made us aware that the United States
was falling behind the Soviet Union in the race for space. Now all of us are in
a battle that is potentially devastating, only it is not against another
country, but against microbes. Could a movie like “Contagion” be an effective
vehicle for sounding the alarm?
In the hope that it would, I signed on as a paid technical consultant on the
film. The first order of business was a casting call for the virus itself.
Together with my team at the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia
University’s Mailman School of Public Health, I devised the imaginary virus that
wreaks havoc in the film. We used as our inspiration the Nipah virus, which in
Malaysia in the late 1990s jumped from bats to pigs to humans, causing
respiratory disease and encephalitis and resulting in more than 100 deaths
before it was contained by quarantine.
My team built a 3-D model of our virus and then worked out how it would spread
and evolve, how it would be discovered, how the public health and medical
communities and governments would respond regionally and internationally, how
vaccines would be developed and distributed. In the film, it takes the lives of
millions of people.
Is this fiction? Yes. Is it real? Absolutely. During the SARS outbreak of 2003,
the first pandemic of the 21st century, I flew to Beijing at the invitation of
the Chinese government to help address the situation there. My memories of
deserted streets, food and supply shortages, and political instability are
reflected in scenes in “Contagion.” I hope the public and our lawmakers will see
the movie as a cautionary tale. Pandemics have happened before. And they will
What can we do to prepare ourselves? A presidential directive in 2007 led to the
establishment of the National Biosurveillance Advisory Subcommittee, at the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to assess our biosurveillance
capabilities and make recommendations for improving detection, prevention and
management of biohazards. The subcommittee, which includes representatives from
federal, state and local agencies, academia and industry (and on which I serve
as co-chairman), has issued reports that provide a road map for steps we have to
take to protect our future.
First, we need to recognize that our public health system is underfinanced and
overwhelmed. We must invest in sensitive, inexpensive diagnostic tests and
better ways of manufacturing and distributing drugs and vaccines. Although new
technology now allows us to design many vaccines in days, manufacturing
strategies for influenza vaccines have not changed in decades. Some experts will
say that the time frame within which “Contagion” introduces the film’s MEV-1
vaccine is unrealistically short; however, it need not be so. We can and must
reduce the several months required to create and test a vaccine before beginning
large-scale production and distribution.
Second, more and better coordination is needed among many local, federal and
international agencies. Joint effort is required to monitor human, animal and
environmental health, optimize electronic health records, mine nontraditional
data sources like the Internet for early signs of outbreaks and invest in a
state-of-the-art work force.
“Contagion” makes the case that scientists and public health professionals who
put themselves on the line to fight infectious diseases are heroes. I hope that,
like Sputnik, it will inspire young people to pursue these careers and help the
rest of the country understand the importance of these efforts. It is what the
world urgently needs.
W. Ian Lipkin is a professor of
and a professor of neurology and pathology
at Columbia University.
The Real Threat of ‘Contagion’,
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