Updated 08:56 AM EDT, Sat, Oct 23, 2021

German Measles 'Rubella' Now Out of the Americas, Health Officials Confirm

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The region of the Americas has successfully eliminated rubella out of its territories, health officials confirmed recently. As reported by Time, medical experts have called it a "historic achievement."

According to the outlet, rubella (also known as German measles) and congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) are the third and fourth vaccine-preventable diseases eradicated from the region. These follow small pox in 1971 and polio in 1994.

The good news follows 15 long years of widespread MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccination, Forbes noted. The outlet added that MMR prevents the "only clearly established cause of autism," that being CRS.

Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization, announced (quoted by The New York Times), "Although it has taken some 15 years, the fight against rubella has paid off... Now, with rubella under our belt, we need to roll up our sleeves and finish the job of eliminating measles, as well."

As told by Forbes, rubella once belonged to the list of a pregnant woman's greatest fears. CRS is linked to miscarriage and stillbirth, or if the baby survives, congenital anomalies that are possibly carried for life.

An estimated number of 16,000 to 20,000 children were born with CRS in Latin America and the Caribbean before mass vaccination took place, Time cited. Unfortunately, at this point, the disease persists in other regions of the world, the outlet said.

Though rubella is described to be generally mild, the viral infection is nevertheless contagious, occurring most commonly among children and young adults, the World Health Organization said. In its updated fact sheet, the agency cites about 110,000 babies born with CRS every year.

According to the WHO, rubella is an acute condition transmitted by airborne droplets. Therefore, coughing or sneezing that takes place closely between an infected individual and another well person increases chances of infection.

Rubella's usual symptoms include rashes (50% - 80% of cases), low fever (<39°C), nausea and mild conjunctivitis. The disease's distinguishing feature, however, comes in the form of swollen lymph glands found in the neck and behind the ears. Symptoms appear in 2 to 3 weeks following viral exposure, the WHO informed.

At the end of 2015, the WHO lists down the following as its goals: (1) Reduce global measles deaths by at least 95% compared with 2000 levels, and (2) achieve regional measles and rubella / congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) elimination goals.

As reported by the Huffington Post, rubella was effectively eradicated from the United States around 2002. The outlet took note of Dr. Susan Reef's remarks, rubella expert at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, who said, "We need the four other regions to establish targeted elimination goals."

For more information about rubella and how it can be prevented, head over here.

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