Rubella Officially Eradicated from Americas

Rubella has officially been eradicated from the Americas. Now, rubella and congenital rubella syndromeadded to the list of vaccine-preventable diseases eradicated from both continents of the Americas. 

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Smallpox eradicated in 1971 and Polio in 1994. The World Health Organization stated that no new endemic cases have been declared in five consecutive years.

What is Rubella?

  • Viral infection
  • Spread by coughs and sneezes
  • Also known as German measles
  • Infected individuals usually experience a rash
  • Normally starting on the face
  • Spreads to the rest of the body
  • In around half of the cases, the infected person is unaware that they even have it

Rubella can also cause:

  • Aching joints
  • Headaches
  • Swelling of the lymph nodes behind the ears
  • Threat low for adults and children, but can be very dangerous for pregnant woman 
  • If contracted during the first three months of pregnancy, the rubella virus can cause congenital rubella syndrome (CRS)

CRS can lead to miscarriage and birth defects such as blindness, deafness, or heart defects. Before the vaccine became available, about5,000 cases of miscarriage a year in America attributed to infection. Globally, over 100,000 infants are born with the disease.

The History of Rubella

Rubella virus affected between 15,000 and 20,000 people a year in North and South AmericaVaccination became available after a major outbreak in the U.S. in the early 1960s. In 1971, it was combined with the measles and mumps vaccine to produce the MMR injection

Rubella has been declared eradicated in the U.S. since 2005, but there were other outbreaks in Argentina and Brazil. Eradication announced this week is for both North and South America.

This shows that mass immunization strategies have been effective in the 45 countries and territories of the Americas. The WHO has a plan to eradicate rubella from theEuropean region (Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia) by the end of 2015.

Other four regions of the world (Southeast Asia, Africa, Eastern Mediterranean, and Western Pacific) currently have no elimination goals. It may be awhile before Rubella is eradicated globally, but this is a great step forward.