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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

CDC: German measles eliminated from U.S.

Stories like this one show the very best in medical science:
The United States has eliminated the rubella virus, or German measles, a major source of birth defects. The rest of the Western hemisphere is making good progress against the disease, but that global eradication is not in sight. The United States is the second country to eliminate rubella after Cuba reported its last case in 1995. The head of the U.S. government's disease tracking agency, Julie Gerberding of the Centers for Disease Control, says an illness that once harmed tens of thousands of infants is no longer a major health threat to the nation. "This is a major milestone in the path toward eliminating rubella in other parts of the world, including the Western hemisphere and other regions that have committed to this very, very important health goal," she said. Rubella's affects are mild in children and adults. It is serious only in the first few months of pregnancy when there is good chance it will infect the fetus and cause miscarriage, still birth, or a range of birth defects, including blindness, deafness, mental retardation, or heart malformations.
Officials stress, however, that the virus has not been eradicated from the Western Hemisphere, so continued vaccination of children is crucial.


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