North and South America have become the first regions of the world to eradicate rubella, or German measles, after no home-grown cases in five years.The virus - spread by sneezes or coughs - can lead to serious birth defects if contracted by pregnant women.
Up to 20,000 children were born with rubella in the Americas every year until mass vaccinations started.
But the last endemic cases registered in the region were in Argentina and Brazil in 2009.
The fact no new cases have been declared in five consecutive years, apart from those imported into the region, allowed global health chiefs to declare the Americas free of the virus.
Eradication was "an historic achievement", said Carissa Etienne, director of the Pan-American Health Organization, which is part of the World Health Organization. READ MORE