ATLANTA, Ga-A new report from officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows cases of rubella, also known as German measles, have dropped to 272 cases reported in 1999.
That number is significantly lower than the 58,000 cases reported in 1969, when researchers found the disease to be harmless. On the contrary, further research showed the rash-like disease causes miscarriages and still births, as well as cataracts, heart defects, hearing damage, and birth defects.
The enveloped RNA virus is a togavirus within the genus Rubivirus. It is relatively unstable and is inactivated by a variety of agents, including: lipid solvents, trypsin, formalin, ultraviolet light, pH, heat, and amatadine.
The first symptoms of the disease show up 5-7 days post-exposure. People generally become infected via airborne transmission.
In the 1970s, American public health officials began a routine immunization campaign, pushing doctors to vaccinate all infants and women of childbearing age. They determined in 1989 that the disease should be eradicated in the US by 2000. The current success of the program has pushed other countries in Western Hemisphere to follow suit. Today, 44 of 47 countries also immunize children and women against rubella, with the Dominican Republic, Peru, and Guatemala public health boards promising similar programs by year's end.