Rubella is a viral infection and is sometimes called German measles that used to be common in children.
Rubella is uncommon in America and other countries with widespread immunization programs. However, rubella infection and congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) is still reported and outbreaks occur among unimmunized groups.
Up to 50% of people infected with rubella, and particularly children, show mild symptoms or none at all. Symptoms of rubella include a distinctive red-pink skin rash, swollen glands (nodes), and cold-like symptoms such as a mild fever, runny nose, and a sore head.
What causes rubella?
Rubella is caused by the rubella virus that’s spread by coughing and sneezing or through personal contact. Once you have had rubella then you normally develop a lifelong immunity against further infection.
Rubella is highly contagious. It is spread by droplets from the nose and throat produced during coughing or sneezing, or by direct contact with infectious people.
The usual time between contact with the virus and the development of the illness is approximately 14-17 days, although it may take up to 21 days for illness to develop.
Rubella’s incubation period is between 2 and 3 weeks with its infectious period lasting from 1 week before the rash first appears until at least 4 days after it’s gone.
Symptoms of the rubella virus can generally be treated with rest, plenty of fluids, and Paracetamol to reduce fever or pain. Your local doctor can provide you with advice.
People with rubella should stay away from school, childcare or work until fully recovered and until at least 4 days after the rash appears.
It is very important that a person with rubella stays away from crowded areas such as shopping centers, and also keeps away from pregnant women while they are infectious.
Rubella and Pregnancy
Rubella is dangerous for a pregnant woman. If pregnant women are infected with rubella, it can result in miscarriage, or the baby may be born with birth defects.
A pregnant woman who thinks they have been in contact with rubella should consult a doctor or specialist for blood tests and appropriate counseling about the risk to her baby.
Rubella can be prevented with vaccination. While rubella is generally a mild disease, vaccination is important to prevent the virus from being spread to pregnant women and their unborn babies.
There are two types of rubella vaccine. In the first type, the rubella vaccine is combined with the measles and mumps vaccines and is commonly known as the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine. In the second type, the rubella vaccine is combined with measles, mumps, and varicella (chickenpox) vaccines and is commonly known as MMRV.
The MMR vaccine is recommended for all children at 12 months of age and the MMRV vaccine is recommended for all children at 18 months of age. Vaccination is critical in women and men of child-bearing age to reduce the risk of pregnant women coming into contact with the virus.
It’s recommended children are immunized against rubella as part of their routine childhood immunization program.