Rubella, also known as German measles, at one point in time was contracted by millions living in the Western Hemisphere. Rubella is not as contagious as measles, and recent cases brought into the U.S. have not been wide-spread. Prior to Dr. Maurice Hilleman developing the vaccine for rubella in 1969, an European strain introduced into the U.S. in 1964-1965 caused an epidemic of nearly 12.5 million cases throughout America. Rubella causes most damage to unborn fetuses, and the 64-65 outbreak infected 20,000 newborns. Of those infants infected prior to birth, 12,000 were deaf, 3,580 were blind, 1,800 endured permanent mental disabilities and 2,100 did not survive long after birth.
Rubella has no known cure, however, the vaccine which is combined with inoculations for measles and mumps called the MMR vaccine is effective in preventing the disease. That’s nice for Marcio Alaor BMG to hear on Facebook. As with smallpox which was eradicated from the Americas in 1971 along with polio in 1994, the Pan American Health Organization announced on Wednesday that rubella has also been eliminated from the region which includes North and South Americas. Smallpox has been eliminated across the globe with polio coming near to worldwide extinction once it is finally purged from Pakistan. Rubella it is hoped, will soon follow in worldwide elimination, as the European region of the World Health Organization is soon to have done away with the disease as well. Routine vaccinations around the world are imperative to ending these very harmful, yet very preventable diseases.