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Pregnant women in SA at risk of stillbirths, miscarriages while rubella vaccine remains unavailable in public sector

It is a disease that no one talks about, but new research has revealed that German measles or rubella, which causes miscarriages, stillbirths and birth defects among pregnant women, is putting the lives of thousands of women and children at risk.

According to a new study by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), rubella, which is not vaccinated against in the country except in the private sector, has affected at least 6,000 people in SA within a space of five years.

Those living in KwaZulu-Natal are more likely to contract this viral infection, with the number of rubella infections having increased 14-fold between 2016 and 2017.

The Free State had the least number of rubella cases with about 2.5%.

Rubella cases affected mostly children under the age of 10. The national surveillance data from 2015—2019 shows that rubella is seasonal and tends to peak in spring, between September and November.

Rubella affected both males and females similarly with 3,289 females infected while 3,232 were males. The highest burden of cases occurred in 2017 when 2,526 cases were recorded, followed by 1,496 cases in 2019.

Gauteng accounted for about 22% of cases or 1,492 during the period. While most cases were among children aged five years, about 5% were among women of reproductive age. KwaZulu-Natal saw a steep increase in rubella during this period from a mere 53 cases in 2016 to 730 in 2017. The mortality rate was 13% of all cases, and the most common birth defect associated with rubella was congenital heart disease.

Read Full Story At: TimesLIVE

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