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(dob - )
Year of Discovery: 1958
Measles Virus Better Not Call Her “Chicken”!
Anna Mitus was a Research fellow at the Tumor Therapy Service of Children's Cancer Research Foundation, in Boston, when she joined John Enders' team. Enders had developed a way to culture viruses in the laboratory, and his team was now searching for a measles vaccine. The team began working on isolating the measles virus, which they'd collected from the infected eleven-year-old son of a colleague. After they successfully isolated the virus they began the arduous task of passaging the virus through human cells. Mitus, in collaboration with Milan V. Milovanovic and others, applied her expertise to show that cultures of the measles virus could be supported using the cells from the sac that protects human embryos (amnion). She then turned her attention to reproducing the virus in the embryos of chicks. Mitus' contributions were critical to the successful development of the live-virus vaccine-an accomplishment that Enders said was more satisfying, and more socially significant, than his previous Nobel Prize winning work on the poliomyelitis virus.
Measles is caused by a virus and is one of the most contagious diseases known. The virus normally grows in the cells lining the back of the throat and those lining the lungs. The first sign of infection is a high fever lasting one to seven days. During this initial stage the patient may develop multiple symptoms, including a runny nose, cough, red and watery eyes, and small white spots inside the cheeks. A rash develops after several days, typically beginning on the face and upper neck, and then spreading to the hands and feet. Poorly nourished children are at an increased risk of contracting a severe case of measles, especially those who have a vitamin A deficiency or whose immune system is compromised. Childhood deaths are usually caused by the complications associated with measles, rather than by the disease itself. The most serious complications include blindness, encephalitis, severe diarrhea, ear infections and severe respiratory infections--such as pneumonia, which is the most common cause of death associated with measles. Despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine for the past several decades, measles continues to be a leading cause of death among children in the developing world. It's estimated that 242,000 people, many of them children, died from measles in 2006. But, vaccination has played a major role, with an estimated 478 million children having received the measles vaccine between 2000 and 2006. As a result, there has been a significant reduction in estimated global measles deaths. Overall, global measles mortality decreased by 68% between 2000 and 2006, with the largest decreases occurring in Africa, where measles cases and deaths fell by 91%.
Introduction by Tim Anderson
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Biographical Memoirs, by the National Academy of Sciences, referencing Mitus:
Measles , by Griffin, referencing Mitus:
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