Rubella has been eliminated from the Americas, which has become the first World Health Organization region to eradicate the disease. Known as German measles, the disease has been wiped out through an extensive vaccination campaign carried out for 15 years. It once affected millions of people, mainly pregnant women.
“Although it has taken some 15 years, the fight against rubella has paid off,” said Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization, in an announcement along with the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Unicef and the United Nations Foundation.
“Now, with rubella under our belt, we need to roll up our sleeves and finish the job of eliminating measles, as well.”
Americas successfully eliminated smallpox in North and South America, and then gotten rid of polio. The Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization declared on Thursday that rubella no longer exists in the region. The organizations also say that the only way the disease could be transferred is if a person visits another country.
Rubella was among the highest fears for pregnant women as the disease gets easily transferred to the unborn child. It is generally a mild disease among children and adults.
It is widely spread when a contaminated person coughs or sneezes, according to BBC.
The eradication is “an historic achievement,” said Carissa Etienne, director of the Pan-American Health Organization.
“The fight against rubella has taken more than 15 years,” she said.
“But it has paid off with what I believe will be one of the most important pan-American public health achievements of the 21st Century.”