Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/Scanpix

Rubella outbreak in Järna continues

4:06 min

A small town close to Stockholm has seen one of the biggest outbreaks of Rubella, or German Measles for over two decades. Almost fifty people have been hit by the disease, so far.

For many, German Measles or Rubella as it is also known, is a disease of the past. It's easily vaccinated against, as part of the MMR vaccine, given to most infants here at the age of 18 months. So outbreaks like this in the town of Järna, south-west of Stockholm are unusual. Ingegerd Hökeberg is county medical officer in the Stockholm department of communicable disease control and prevention, she says the outbreak kan be put down to a small group in Järna, members of an anthroposophe community, who have chosen not to vaccinate their kids.

"It's because so few have been vaccinated. The immunity status of the children is nil. They don't believe in measles vaccinations, in particular"

This also then makes the susceptable to Rubella, as the Rubella vaccination is only available as part of the MMR jab against Measles, Mumps and Rubella.

The vast majority of the cases in the Järna outbreak are among young children, and for them the disease is often more an inconvenience than anything else. Some may catch the disease and not even notice, others may get swollen glands and a skin rash and a temperature, and usually pass within a week. But the reason there is a general vaccination campaign is the impact the virus can have on pregnant women, or more specifically their foetuses. Congenital rubella syndrome, as it's called, can lead to permanent health issues for the baby, and can even lead to miscarriage.

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