The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared that Rubella is officially eliminated from Australia as of the end of October 2018.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said that the disease’s elimination was a significant accomplishment for the Australian Public Health Sector.
“It sends a powerful message that vaccinations work,” Mr. Hunt said.
Mr. Hunt says that vaccinations are an essential part of creating a healthy society, as they save and protect lives.
“Australia has high-performing surveillance systems to rapidly detect and respond to Rubella cases and [the] confirmation this disease has been eliminated is a testimony to the success of our NIP,” he said.
Despite the declaration, the RACGP claimed it’s important to know that elimination of the disease does not mean eradication. This is because the disease is still prevalent in other countries around the globe.
“Not all countries have introduced Rubella vaccination. As of December 2016, just 152 of 194 countries had introduced vaccination. Even in some countries with vaccination programs, coverage is so low that large outbreaks are still occurring. In Japan, more than 1100 cases have been reported this year.”
Rubella, also known as the German Measles, is a highly contagious viral disease. Symptoms of the disease include:
- Eye redness
- Red rashes
- Runny nose
- A headache
- Enlarged neck lymph nodes.
According to the experts at House Call Doctor, the disease typically affects children, however, infection in pregnancy can also lead to serious issues for unborn children.
If the mother gets infected in the first trimester, there is an 80% chance of a miscarriage or a birth defect known as Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS). The syndrome can cause heart defects, intellectual disabilities, cataracts, deafness, and blindness in infants.
The first vaccine produced after the discovery of the disease was in 1960. Its discovery opened up the possibility of eliminating the disease.
Between 2012 and 2017, there were only four cases of CRS reported, which is a major difference from the thousands documented before the introduction of the vaccine.