Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

CDC: Rubella eliminated in U.S.

CDC: Rubella eliminated in U.S.

Monday, March 21, 2005 Posted: 4:05 PM EST (2105 GMT)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Rubella, a virus that once caused tens of
thousands of birth defects and deaths in a single outbreak, has been
eliminated from the United States, health officials said Monday.

But Americans still must vaccinate their children, and women who
might get pregnant must still ensure they are immune because the
disease exists elsewhere, the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (news - web sites) said.

"A disease that once seriously harmed tens of thousands of infants
is no longer a major health threat, thanks to a safe and effective
vaccine and successful immunization programs across the country,"
CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding told a Washington, D.C. news

"We should take pride in this accomplishment, and also recognize
that we must maintain our vigilance or we can see a resurgence of

The Atlanta-based CDC said that in 2004, nine rubella cases were
reported in the United States, all of which originated in other

"Recently, the cases we do have are not cases that have been
transmitted in the United States," Gerberding said.

Rubella, also commonly known as German measles, soft measles or
three-day measles, is a usually mild viral infection that causes a
fever and a rash.

But early in pregnancy it can cause birth defects ranging from
deafness to severe brain damage and death.

"During 1964 and 1965 a rubella epidemic in the United States caused
an estimated 12.5 million cases of rubella and 20,000 cases of
congenital rubella syndrome which led to more than 11,600 babies
born deaf, 11,250 fetal deaths, 2,100 neonatal (newborn) deaths,
3,580 babies born blind and 1,800 babies born mentally retarded,"
the CDC said in a statement.

A vaccine was licensed in 1969 and since then the rubella virus has
been included in the measles, mumps and rubella or MMR combined
vaccine routinely given to babies and young children.

Now the CDC estimates that 93 percent of the nation's children under
2 get the vaccine.

And Gerberding said they should continue to do so.

"As long as there is rubella anywhere in the world, there could be
rubella in our children too," she said.

"The importance of continuing vaccination cannot be emphasized
enough," Dr. Steve Cochi, who heads the CDC's National Immunization
Program, added in a statement.

"Cases of rubella continue to be brought into the country by
worldwide travelers and because of bordering countries where the
disease is active."

The Pan American Health Organization is planning a vaccination
campaign this year that will include every country in the Americas
and will include a rubella component.

In 1997 there were more than 130,000 cases of rubella in the
Americas; in 2002 there were 8,670. Mexico had the most cases with
3,685 and Venezuela had 3,662, according to PAHO.