About Global Measles, Rubella, and Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS)

Measles and rubella can be prevented.

Measles and rubella are what’s known as “vaccine-preventable diseases” (VPD). This means that if vaccine is delivered on schedule and as recommended, it can keep people from catching and giving these diseases to others. Measles and rubella vaccines are safe and proven effective in helping the body build protection against these viruses to prevent disease.

Measles and rubella can cause serious illness, birth defects, and death.

Measles and rubella (also known as “German measles”) are diseases that can lead to serious health complications, or even death. In unvaccinated pregnant women, rubella can lead to miscarriage or multiple birth defects that together are called congenital rubella syndrome (CRS).

Health problems caused by these diseases overlap. Each of them can cause brain damage, deafness, and blindness. Measles can cause pneumonia and diarrhea, while rubella and congenital rubella syndrome can lead to heart disorders.

Measles can cause diarrhea and pneumonia. Rubella can cause heart disorders. Both can lead to brain damage, deafness, and blindness.

[Above: Health problems possible from measles and rubella / congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) overlap.]

CDC’s U.S. Measles and Rubella websites have more information on the signs and symptoms:


Measles and rubella are leading causes of death, disease, and economic burden globally

In 1980, before widespread global use of measles vaccine, an estimated 2.6 million measles deaths occurred worldwide. While much progress has been made, including more than 23.2 million measles-related deaths prevented through vaccination from 2000 – 2018, measles still claimed the lives of 140,000 people (mostly children) in 2018.

In 2018, measles infected over 9 million people. The health consequences of measles and rubella infection can be lifelong, including economic losses for individuals, families and societies.

Page last reviewed: November 11, 2020
Content source: Global Immunization