North and South America on 27 April 2015 became the first regions of the world to eradicate rubella, also known as German measles. These regions were declared free of endemic transmission of rubella and congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) after no home grown cases were reported in five years.
The last endemic cases registered in the region were in Argentina and Brazil in 2009.
The declaration of elimination was made by an international expert committee during a meeting at the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO).
With the eradication of rubella and CRS from Americas region, the total number of vaccine-preventable disease that has been eliminated from this region has gone up to four. Earlier in 1971, the region became the first in the world to eradicate Smallpox and in 1994 it became the first to eradicate Polio.
How rubella was eradicated from the region?
These regions were able to eradicate rubella through its mass vaccination campaign which started 15-year ago in 2000. They used vaccination against Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) throughout the Western Hemisphere.
As a result, some 250 million adolescents and adults in 32 countries and territories were vaccinated against rubella between 1998 and 2008 and the last endemic (local origin) cases of rubella and CRS were reported in the Americas in 2009.
Rubella is an infection caused by the rubella virus. The virus, spread by sneezes or coughs, can lead to serious birth defects if contracted by pregnant women. It usually starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body. The disease is threat mainly for pregnant women, as if they get contracted of the disease during the first three months of pregnancy, then the rubella virus can cause congenital rubella syndrome. This can lead to a multitude of problems like miscarriage and birth defects such as blindness, deafness, or heart defects.
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When: 27 April 2015