• Vol. 39 No. 2, 95–101
  • 15 February 2010

Epidemiological Surveillance and Control of Rubella in Singapore, 1991-2007



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Introduction: We reviewed the epidemiological features of rubella in Singapore and the impact of the national immunisation programme in raising the population herd immunity against rubella, with special reference to females in the reproductive age group, and in the elimination of congenital rubella syndrome (CRS).

Materials and Methods: Epidemiological data on all reported cases of rubella and CRS were obtained from the Communicable Diseases Division and Central Claims Processing System, respectively, at the Ministry of Health. Coverage of the childhood immunisation programme against rubella was based on the immunisation data maintained by the National Immunisation Registry, Health Promotion Board. To assess the herd immunity of the population against rubella, 4 serological surveys were conducted from 1989 to 1990, in 1993, 1998 and 2004.

Results: The incidence of rubella has decreased significantly from the peak of 13.3 per 100,000 population in 1996 to 1.8 per 100,000 in 2007. CRS has virtually disappeared. With more than 92% to 93% of primary school leavers and preschool children annually vaccinated against rubella since 1976 and 1990, respectively, the level of susceptibility to rubella among women in the reproductive age group has gradually decreased from 44% in 1975 to 28% in 1985, and maintained at between 10% and 20% from 1987 to 1998. A considerable proportion (15.8%) of women 18 to 44 years of age remained susceptible to rubella infection in 2004.

Conclusion: Rubella prevention and control has been successfully implemented. However, the relatively high level of susceptibility to rubella among women in the reproductive age group continues to be of concern. More public awareness and health educational efforts are needed and every opportunity should be taken to ensure that all susceptible women are identified and protected against the infection.

Rubella is a mild febrile viral exanthematous disease transmitted through droplets or direct contact with the nasopharyngeal secretion of an infected person. It is of public health importance because of the teratogenic effects of the virus on the developing fetus.

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