Rubella Eradicated from the Americas

Thanks to widespread vaccination programs, the disease rubella (also known as German measles) has been eliminated from the Americas. While the disease, which has no known cure, manifests itself as a mild rash in fever in most children and adults, it is particularly dangerous for pregnant women and unborn children. Fetuses in their first trimester are susceptible to miscarriage and severe birth defects if their mothers contract rubella.

Since the rubella vaccine was developed in 1969, there has been a steady decline in the number of cases. Vaccinations were necessary to develop herd immunity against the disease and protect pregnant women and their children from contracting the illness. In developing nations, the vaccine was initially primarily given to women and girls, but once it was coupled with measles and mumps vaccinations (to form the MMR vaccine), men were eagerly vaccinated and encouraged their families to get vaccinated as well.

The campaign to eliminate rubella in the Americas was formally declared by the Pan American Health Organization in 2003, but many countries had long suppressed their outbreaks through various campaigns.