eradication of disease

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Ending all transmission of an infectious disease agent by bringing about the extermination of the disease agent. This was achieved worldwide for smallpox by a policy of surveillance and containment, made possible by the fact that vaccination of a smallpox contact before the disease declares itself clinically will prevent that contact from getting the disease; because the smallpox virus has no other host than humans, it dies if it cannot infect new cases to perpetuate itself. Similar methods of eradication have worked regionally for dracunculiasis, measles, and poliomyelitis but would not work for communicable diseases that have different agent-host relationships, such as alternative animal hosts.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology.

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