Anna Mitus
(dob - )
Year of Discovery 1958
MeaslesVaccineTeam

Helped Develop the Measles Vaccine

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. Mitus produced nine peer-reviewed academic journal articles on measles and the measles 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. 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. In 2000 it was estimated that  6,000,000 people a year died from measles, mostly children.  Now in 2021 that number is down to 120,000, all due to the measles vaccine.  About 85% of all the children in the world now receive a measles vaccination.  

Written by science writer, Tim Anderson


Lives Saved:  Over 130,000,000


Snippets
The first sign of measles is usually a high fever, which begins about 10 to 12 days after exposure to the virus, and lasts 4 to 7 days. A runny nose, a cough, red and watery eyes, and small white spots inside the cheeks can develop in the initial stage. After several days, a rash erupts, usually on the face and upper neck. Over about 3 days, the rash spreads, eventually reaching the hands and feet. The rash lasts for 5 to 6 days, and then fades. On average, the rash occurs 14 days after exposure to the virus (within a range of 7 to 18 days).

Most measles-related deaths are caused by complications associated with the disease. Serious complications are more common in children under the age of 5, or adults over the age of 30. The most serious complications include blindness, encephalitis (an infection that causes brain swelling), severe diarrhoea and related dehydration, ear infections, or severe respiratory infections such as pneumonia. Severe measles is more likely among poorly nourished young children, especially those with insufficient vitamin A, or whose immune systems have been weakened by HIV/AIDS or other diseases.


Vaccines are Ubiquitous & Omnipresent Throughout Our Lives

It is bizarre that vaccines are controversial, when virtually everyone has had vaccines. The average person born today may get 70+ vaccines in their lifetime. 

  • There are 31 childhood vaccines (counting booster shots). Over 90% of people have received some of these vaccines.

Virtually everyone constantly benefits from vaccines

  • Did you know that all beef, poultry, and pork you eat comes from vaccinated animals?
  • And that all horses, dogs, cats, and zoo animals are vaccinated?
  • Who wants to live in a world where you can’t pet your friends’ dog because it may not have been vaccinated, and may have rabies?

Key Contributors
John Enders
Maurice Hilleman
Samuel Katz
Thomas Peebles
Anna Mitus
Kevin McCarthy
Ann Holloway
Milan Milovanovic


Links to More About the Scientist & the Science
Anna Mitus' Wikipedia Page
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anna_Mitus
The Enders Team's Landmark Academic Paper
Measles Virus: A Summary of Experiments Concerned with Isolation, Properties and Behavior. American Journal of Public Health, Vol47, No. 3, March1957. John Enders, Thomas Peebles, Kevin McCarthy, Milo Milovanovic, Anna Mitus, and Ann Holloway
https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/pdf/10.2105/AJPH.47.3.275