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(1927 - )
Year of Discovery: 1958
Doctor Develops Measles Vaccine--Then Tests It On Himself to Prove it's Safe
When Samuel Katz completed his medical internship and his pediatric residency he also served as a research fellow in virology and infectious diseases. He then became a staff member at Children's Hospital in Boston, MA and worked there with John Enders for 12 years. Katz became fascinated with the measles virus and in 1958 was instrumental in developing the vaccine using cell-culture techniques and egg inoculations. After preparing safety-tested material for use in humans, he first inoculated himself and then his colleagues in the laboratory. After a series of clinical trials proved the vaccine was safe and effective, the work was published in 1962 and the vaccine licensed in 1963. By 1968 the incidence of measles in the United States had dropped to less than 10 percent.
Katz wanted to reduce the spread of measles worldwide, especially in countries where measles had mortality rates of 5-20 percent. He traveled to Nigeria and conducted studies which once again proved the vaccine to be safe and effective, even in infants who were suffering from malnutrition, malaria and other infections. Encouraged by the results of these studies, in 1978 the World Health Organization (WHO) later began its Expanded Program on Immunization, and included the measles vaccine with vaccines for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio and BCG (for tuberculosis). At that time, the WHO (World Health Organization) estimated that, prior to vaccine availability, 6-8 million children per year died of measles, most in the developing world.
Measles is caused by a virus and is one of the most contagious diseases known. Measles virus normally grows in the cells that line the back of the throat and in the cells that line the lungs. The first sign of infection is a high fever, and lasts one to seven days. During the initial stage, the patient may develop a runny nose, cough, red and watery eyes and small white spots inside the cheeks. After several days, a rash develops, usually on the face and upper neck and spreads eventually to the hands and feet.
Introduction by Billy Woodward
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Medical News Today announcement of Katz receiving the 2007 Pollin Prize:
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