During 1963 to 1964, a pandemic
of rubella swept across Europe and the United States, leaving in its
wake at least 20,000 affected infants in this country
alone.1 During the epidemic an expanded congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) was described, involving not only the classic triad of
cataracts, cardiac abnormalities, and deafness, but also encephalitis,
wasting, hepatitis, pneumonia, endocrinopathies, and other sequelae.
This disaster supervened just after the first isolation of rubella
virus in cell culture and stimulated efforts to develop a vaccine,
which were successful by the end of the decade.
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