Rubella Declared Eradicated From Americas

Rubella Declared Eradicated From Americas

In a landmark achievement, North and South America have become the first regions of the world to eradicate rubella, also known as German measles, after zero home-grown cases were reported in the last five years.

The virus, which is spread by sneezes or coughs, can lead to serious birth defects if contracted by pregnant women.

There were 20,000 children born with rubella in the Americas every year until mass vaccinations began.

The last endemic cases registered in the region were in Argentina and Brazil in 2009.

The lack of new cases in five consecutive years, aside from those imported into the region, mean global health chiefs can declare the Americas free of the virus.

The eradication was "an historic achievement," said Carissa Etienne, director of the Pan-American Health Organization, which is part of the World 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."

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