Rubella resurges in Spain with an outbreak that affects 12 workers of a slaughterhouse in Zaragoza | Society
A dozen workers a slaughterhouse located in Zuera (Zaragoza) have contracted in the last weeks rubella, a very infectious disease caused by a virus which, although it tends to be mild in children and adults, can cause serious sequelae in pregnant babies if the mother is infected in the first trimester of pregnancy.
The presence of rubella in a pig slaughterhouse "has not caused any risk to the population due to the consumption of meat", agree in highlighting the Government of Aragon and the owner company, the Jorge Group. "The outbreak does not have any relationship with the work activity, it has coincided here because it is a space of coexistence, as it could have been any other," adds a company spokesman.
This is the largest outbreak of Rubella registered since 2012 in Spain, a country that had practically eradicated this disease in recent years. The World Health Organization (WHO) included Spain in 2016 among the countries free of the disease. This means that the circulation of the virus in the interior of the country has been interrupted, although imported cases (people who have acquired the disease abroad) and secondary cases (to whom the first affected person transmits the disease in Spain) can continue to occur.
"The existing high vaccination coverage [por encima del 95%] they confer a protection of group or flock that should avoid that the outbreak goes to more, although a new case takes place ", sustains José Miguel Cisneros, president of the Spanish Society of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Microbiology The Ministry of Health has not offered data on those affected, although the vast majority are young adults from sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern Europe, according to department sources.
The first information about the outbreak caused a great concern in the Government of Aragón at the end of November, when there was an accumulation of cases of an undiagnosed disease in a space where hundreds of tons of meat are processed every day for human consumption. At first there were seven affected workers, who had a fever of 38º and rash (reddish spots on the skin).
The results of laboratory tests confirmed, entered the month of December and when the number of affected had risen to 12, that the causative agent was the rubella virus. Health does not yet give the outbreak closed because of the long incubation period of the virus (between 14 and 23 days) and the fact that some adults can have the disease almost asymptomatically.
Although it has some similarities with measles, "rubella is more benign," explains Pere Soler, head of the Infectious Pathology Pediatrics Unit at Vall Hebrón Hospital in Barcelona. "Its symptoms are milder, it lasts less, it has fewer complications and, when they do occur, they are milder, except, and this is important, in case of pregnancy," she explains.
Meanwhile, the health centers in the area actively monitor any case with compatible symptoms and a vaccination plan has been initiated for the entire population susceptible to not being immunized between the workers of the slaughterhouse and the environment of those affected.
"In general, the majority of the Spanish population born since the 70s has been vaccinated and the elderly passed the rubella as children.The immunization may be lower in some Spaniards born in the early 70s and the population born in countries where vaccination coverage is lower, "explains Cisneros.
This warning about "the very serious consequences that a rubella infection can cause in the fetus, especially in the first trimester of pregnancy". This is called congenital rubella, characterized by deafness (the infection damages the auditory nerve), vision problems and heart disease, among other sequelae. In these cases, faced with the risk of harm to the baby, the doctors and the mother should contemplate the possibility of interrupting the pregnancy, says Cisneros.
The Government of Aragon has not reported for now if any of the affected is a pregnant woman.