Three cases of congenital rubella syndrome in the postelimination era--Maryland, Alabama, and Illinois, 2012

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2013 Mar 29;62(12):226-9.


Infection with rubella virus during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester, can result in congenital rubella syndrome (CRS). Serious manifestations of CRS include deafness, cataracts, cardiac defects, mental retardation, and death. In the last major rubella epidemic in the United States, during 1964-1965, an estimated 12.5 million rubella virus infections resulted in 11,250 therapeutic or spontaneous abortions, 2,100 neonatal deaths, and 20,000 infants born with CRS. In 2004, after implementation of a universal vaccination program, elimination of endemic rubella virus transmission was documented in the United States; evidence also suggests that endemic rubella has been eliminated in the entire World Health Organization (WHO) Region of the Americas. However, rubella virus continues to circulate elsewhere in the world, especially in regions where rubella vaccination programs have not been established (e.g., the African Region), placing the United States at risk for imported cases of rubella and CRS. During 2004-2012, 79 cases of rubella and six cases of CRS were reported in the United States; all of the cases were import-associated or from unknown sources. Of the three cases of CRS that occurred in 2012, conditions included cardiac defects, cataracts, hearing impairment, and pericardial effusion in one infant; patent ductus arteriosus, cardiomegaly, thrombocytopenia, and pneumonitis in a second infant; and cataracts, thrombocytopenia, and cardiac defects in a third infant. All three mothers had been in Africa early in their pregnancies. While rubella remains endemic elsewhere in the world, imported CRS will continue to be a public health concern in the United States.

MeSH terms

  • Africa
  • Alabama
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Illinois
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Maryland
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care
  • Risk
  • Rubella Syndrome, Congenital / diagnosis*
  • Rubella Syndrome, Congenital / pathology*
  • Rubella virus / isolation & purification*
  • Rubella virus / metabolism
  • Travel