Before Zika made global headlines, rubella was a disease that threatened pregnant women, causing tens of thousands of child deaths and birth defects. While eliminated in the Western Hemisphere, it still affects 100,000 children a year in the developing world. With more outbreaks of Zika expected this summer, public health officials are now looking back to the history of rubella as they try to figure out what to do about a threat unlike anything they’ve seen in decades. Susan Reef, who leads the rubella team in the CDC’s Global Immunization Division, spoke with the Atlantic about the similarities between the two diseases, as well how one of the keys to treating Zikawill be for doctors to develop a more complete understanding of the clinical manifestations of Zika among pregnant women. With rubella, it took the epidemic of 1964 for that to happen.
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