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Congenital rubella syndrome: the end is in sight
  1. Scott R Lambert
  1. Scott R Lambert, Emory Eye Center, 1365-B Clifton Road, NE, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA; slamber{at}emory.edu

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Rubella vaccination programmes offer hope in eradicating congenital rubella syndrome in developing countries

Rubella is usually a mild febrile illness associated with a rash, lymphadenopathy, conjunctivitis, malaise and arthralgia. In 1941, an Australian ophthalmologist, Norman Gregg, first reported the association between congenital cataracts and a rubella infection during pregnancy in an article entitled “Congenital cataract following German measles in the mother”.1 This condition is now referred to as congenital rubella syndrome (CRS). It occurs as a result of a maternal rubella infection during the first trimester of pregnancy when organogenesis is occurring and is most commonly associated with hearing impairment (60%), congenital heart disease (45%), microcephaly (27%) congenital cataracts (25%) and mental retardation (13%). During the early 1960s, there was a worldwide pandemic of CRS. In the United States alone, 20 000 children were born with CRS between 1962 and 1965. In 1969, a live attenuated rubella vaccine was licensed in the US, and widespread vaccination of children was initiated. As a result, CRS has almost been eradicated from the US. Between 2001 and 2004, there were only 4 reported cases of CRS in the US, of which 3 were …

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