Another win for vaccinations.
Health officials have announced that the contagious viral infection Rubella has been eliminated from the Americas. It is the first region to successfully remove the infection that has very similar symptoms to measles. The last major cases occurred in 2009.
It’s been 15 years in the making. There’s been over a decade of campaigning for the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, and now the Americas can celebrate this achievement along with their elimination of smallpox and polio.
The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced last week that the disease had been eliminated from North, Central and South American countries.
Experts in the medical field have called the milestone an 'historic achievement'. Both Rubella and congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) are the third and fourth vaccine-preventable diseases to be eliminated from the Americas. It's also more proof that vaccinations and vaccine awareness campaigns are positive, necessary and life saving.
"Ours was the first region to eradicate smallpox, the first to eliminate polio, and now the first to eliminate rubella. All four achievements prove the value of immunisation and how important it is to make vaccines available even to the remotest corners of our hemisphere," said PAHO/WHO Director Carissa F. Etienne.
There were widespread outbreaks of Rubella (also known as German measles) throughout the Americas before the MMR vaccine was introduced. Now, WHO is calling for the vaccines to be available in the most remote countries and towns worldwide.
The main demographic at major risk from Rubella is pregnant women.
"When contracted by women early in pregnancy, it [rubella] can cause miscarriage or CRS, a constellation of birth defects that often includes blindness, deafness, and congenital heart defects," a statement from PAHO/WHO said.