Austin Confirms 1st Rubella Case in 20 Years
Austin Public Health announced it is investigating a confirmed rubella case, the 1st since 1999.
“Along with the requirement to keep your unvaccinated child home for weeks, there are significant health risks to being exposed to rubella,” said Dr. Mark Escott, interim health authority and medical director for Austin Public Health, in a press release published on January 16, 2020.
“Please, check if you and your family are up-to-date on vaccinations to prevent the comeback of these previously eliminated diseases.”
In the USA, there are typically less than 10 rubella cases annually, most of which are associated with international travel, says the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
As an example, international travelers visiting Japan were advised by the CDC to ensure they are fully protected against the Rubella disease before arriving in Japan.
As of late December 2019, Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases reported 2,288 rubella cases.
With Japan’s capital city of Tokyo reporting the most rubella cases, 854 during 2019.
The CDC updated a Level 2 Travel Alert for Japan on January 3, 2020, saying ‘there is an ongoing outbreak of rubella,’ which is a contagious disease caused by a virus.
This is important news for about 31 million people who visit Japan annually.
This updated ‘Practice Enhanced Precaution’ Travel Alert says ‘pregnant women who are not protected against rubella should not travel to Japan during this outbreak.’
This CDC recommendation is because about 90 percent of women who get rubella early in pregnancy will pass it on to their unborn children.
Rubella is a highly contagious disease caused by the rubella virus. It can be spread from an infected person to other people in different ways, including direct contact and through the air, such as when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Additionally, a rubella infection early in pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, or Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS) in an infant.
CRS is a condition that includes severe birth defects and lifelong disability, like vision and hearing impairments and heart defects. Deafness occurs in about 66 percent of children born with CRS.
It is estimated by the World Health Organization that around 100,000 children are born with CRS every year.
While the City of Austin and Travis County, Texas, has a relatively high vaccination rate, there are pockets of communities where vaccination opt-outs bring herd immunity to an unstable status.
During May 2019, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin and Johns Hopkins University identified Austin / Travis County as one of 25 counties most at risk for a measles outbreak.
There are various private schools in Austin where the under-vaccination rate far exceeds the national average. As an example, Austin Waldorf School was reported to have a 48 percent under-vaccination rate in 2017.
To remove financial barriers, the CDC launched the Vaccines For Children program which provides vaccines at no cost to children who might not otherwise be vaccinated because of an inability to pay.
Rubella vaccines, like any medicine, can produce side effects. You are encouraged to report vaccine side effects to a healthcare provider or the CDC.
Rubella vaccine news is published by Precision Vaccinations.