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Lancet. 2004 Apr 3;363(9415):1127-37.


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Department of Infectious Disease (Virology Section), Kings College London, St Thomas' Campus, London SE1 7EH, UK.


Maternal rubella is now rare in many developed countries that have rubella vaccination programmes. However, in many developing countries congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) remains a major cause of developmental anomalies, particularly blindness and deafness. WHO have provided recommendations for prevention of CRS, and, encouragingly, the number of countries introducing rubella vaccination programmes has risen. However, declining uptake rates due to concerns about the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine in the UK, and increasing numbers of cases in some European countries coupled with poor uptake rates might jeopardise this progress. Surveillance of postnatally and congenitally acquired infection is an essential component of CRS prevention since rubella is difficult to diagnose on clinical grounds alone. Laboratory differentiation of rubella from other rash-causing infections, such as measles, parvovirus B19, human herpesvirus 6, and enteroviruses in developed countries, and various endemic arboviruses is essential. Reverse transcriptase PCR and sequencing for diagnosis and molecular epidemiological investigation and detection of rubella-specific IgG and IgM salivary antibody responses in oral fluid are now available.

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