The rubella virus, a major cause of serious birth defects such as deafness and blindness, is no longer considered to be a major public health threat in the United States, according to a March 21, 2005, news release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Currently, about 93% of US children are vaccinated against rubella by age two, and more than 95% are vaccinated by the time they enter school.
In 1964 and 1965, an estimated 12.5 million cases of rubella and 20,000 cases of congenital rubella syndrome resulted in 11,250 fetal deaths and 2,100 neonatal deaths. In addition,
* 11,600 babies were born deaf;
* 3,580 babies were born blind; and
* 1,800 babies were born with mental retardation. After vaccine licensure in 1969 and the development of a vaccination program to prevent rubella infection during pregnancy, incidence of the disease declined rapidly. In 2004, only nine rubella cases were reported in the United States. The elimination of rubella is a public health milestone and a major step in protecting the health of pregnant women and infants.
Rubella No Longer a Major Public Health Threat in the United States (news release, Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, March 21, 2005) http://www.cdc.gov/od/oc/media/pressrel/r050321.htm (accessed 23 March 2005).
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