NHK World, 3/5/2019
Japanese health officials have reported 109 cases of rubella in the week of February 18-24th. This brings the total 2019 rubella cases in the country to 650, four times higher than the same period last year. Officials predict that this year may be comparable to 2013’s record year of over 14,000 cases. The national government has begun offering free vaccinations to males between 39 and 56, an age group that did not receive childhood rubella vaccinations. In addition, some municipalities are offering free vaccines to women who may become pregnant and their families, in order to curb potential (visual, auditory, and cardiovascular) birth defects.
We have just begun learning about viral structure and function in class, and how (for lack of a better term) virulent they can be. Rubella is another example of an airborne pathogen, and it was thankfully eradicated from the US in 2004, according to the CDC.
This, as with other similar stories from NHK World, are meant as informative public broadcasts rather than in-depth scientific literature. It focuses mainly on raising public awareness of, and government response to, the outbreak. It does, however, touch on the complications rubella can present for pregnant women.
How prevalent are airborne viruses, and why is everyone not infected all the time by an airborne pathogen without the biological constraint to maintain life?