Eradication of an infectious disease is an extraordinary goal. Its possibility became apparent as soon as Edward Jenner demonstrated an ability to provide immunity to smallpox. Writing in 1801, Jenner observed that, through broad application of vaccination, "it now becomes too manifest to admit of controversy that the annihilation of the Small Pox, the most dreadful scourge of the human species, must be the result of this practice" (Jenner 1801). Louis Pasteur claimed that it was "within the power of man to eradicate infection from the earth" (Dubos and Dubos 1953). And yet, by and large, public health has proceeded with more modest goals of local and regional disease control. Notable successes have occurred. Indeed, some diseases now thought of as "tropical" were previously endemic in temperate climates. Systematic application of hygiene, sanitation, environmental modification, vector control, and vaccines have led, in many countries, to the interruption of transmission of microbes causing such diseases as cholera, malaria, and yellow fever.
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