CDC: World achieves progress, but not victory, against rubella

The world is marking constant progress towards the elimination of rubella, with approximately half of the countries worldwide managing to eliminate this virus from the disease’s charts, according to a Feb. 11 report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Rubella is an illness caused by a togavirus from the genus Rubivirus, according to Medical Microbiology. It mostly affects the lymph nodes and the skin and it can be prevented with a single dose of a rubella-containing vaccine, the CDC says. Despite, the predominantly mild symptoms that this disease generates, it can become much more dangerous for the unborn if their mothers contract it during pregnancy—potentially causing miscarriage, stillbirth, fetal death or numerous fetal defects that together comprise congenital rubella syndrome (CRS), CDC says.

The first rubella vaccines were licensed in 1969 and 1970, but the most noticeable progress was made with the introduction of the RCV (rubella-containing vaccine) that was introduced to developing countries in order to reduce the inequity of the global use. Once the immunization began, the RCV cut back the numbers of rubella and CRS cases, says a report in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

Of course, the ultimate goal, full eradication has yet to be reached, though it should be possible.

“The RA 27/3 rubella vaccine, usually combined with a measles vaccine, has eliminated rubella and congenital rubella syndrome from much of the world, notably from the Western Hemisphere. Except in immunosuppressed individuals, it is remarkably safe. Together with rubella vaccine strains used in China and Japan, eradication of the rubella virus is possible, indeed more feasible than eradication of measles or mumps,” the Journal report says.

The road to worldwide immunization

Despite the fact that there are still countries that need to introduce the RCV to their immunization charts, a lot of progress has been made in terms of controlling and eradicating this virus.

The CDC says global coverage with RCV grew by 30% in a less than a decade, and countries have shown a serious commitment to this activity. “From 2012 to 2020, the number of countries that have introduced RCV increased from 132 to 173, and global coverage increased from 40% to 70%,” a CDC report shows.

Up until now, full eradication has been verified in 93 countries (48%), the CDC says.

In order to further advance this progress, it is critical that the countries that have not yet introduced the RCV immunization do so, the CDC says. In the same manner, CDC adds, countries that have started with their immunization schedule proceed with their efforts of pursuing the RCV immunizations goals with high vaccine coverage.

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