Start-up Target Diseases

Two diseases have been selected for the start-up to develop within the App – measles and smallpox.

Measles is a highly contagious disease which is still all too common across the globe. In the USA wild, local strains were thought to have been eradicated by 2000 but porous global borders have seen many cases of measles imported into the USA. In the mid-2000s, in New Mexico, we had a person with measles (a case) fly into Albuquerque, New Mexico, from London via Baltimore and Denver. The individual landed in New Mexico and went to Urgent Care in Santa Fe – but left before being seen. They drove to Espanola, New Mexico, and to Urgent Care where they were finally diagnosed with measles. It cost an estimated $1,000,000 to trace all the contacts on all the flights, and to mount a vaccination campaign to protect those exposed. In late 2014 and continuing into April 2015, the so-called Disneyland Measles Outbreak led to over 150 people in 7 states having gotten measles from that one index case at Disneyland. To date, New Mexico has not had one of these measles cases. The App “Give yourself a case of measles” is one new tool to promote measles vaccination (the MMR) and to help persuade vaccine skeptics of the benefits of being vaccinated against measles.

Smallpox was a dreaded and often fatal disease which was eradicated from the wild in 1980. Smallpox is the only disease humankind has eliminated, and vaccination was the key to that success. Not only was smallpox very contagious but the pox themselves were extremely disfiguring should one survive. The App “Give yourself a case of smallpox” is going to help our society remember the ravages of this disease in a graphic and personal way.

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