xRubella (German Measles)

german measles

Rubella or german measles is a viral infection causing symptoms like rash, sore throat and swollen glands. The importance of rubella infection is the problem faced by pregnant women when they have rubella, the virus is likely to cause serious damage to the unborn child or cause a miscarriage. It causes damage to the heart, brain, hearing and sight of the baby, and condition is called as congenital rubella syndrome. After the advent of rubella immunisation there has been a dramatic fall in the number of babies born with the congenital rubella syndrome.

Generally, patients with rubella don’t have any symptoms; this is called as subclinical infection. But if symptoms develop, it includes:

  • Swelling of glands of the body, usually behind the ears and at the back of the neck, but glands in other parts of the body may swell. The swelling goes back gradually over a week.
  • Patient might develop a rash, which is pink-red in color and develops at any time up to seven days after the glands. The rash starts behind the ears, then spreads to the face and neck and then spreads to the rest of the body. The rash lasts 3-5 days before fading.
  • A mild fever, cold, cough and sore throat are common.
  • Sore red eyes (conjunctivitis) may develop for a few days.
  • Joint pains, like a mild arthritis, may develop for a week or so. This is less common in children, but is quite common in adults with rubella.
  • Other symptoms may include fever, tiredness and headache.
  • Bleeding disorders and brain inflammation (encephalitis) are rare complications.

The main concern of rubella is that is the complicationsthat people have during pregnancy.

People get infected from direct contact and by coughing and sneezing the virus into the air.

It takes 2-3 weeks to develop symptoms after being infected.  A person is infectious from one week before symptoms begin until four days after the rash appears. Children who are affected are advised to stay away from school and not mix with others for four days after the rash starts. In pregnant females rubella infection in first few months can cause damage to developing baby causing congenital rubella syndrome. Having rubella infection in the first three months of pregnancy also increases your risk of having a miscarriage:

During a contact with rubella, if the person is pregnant, one should check the rubella status. Most women are immune due to previous immunisation and will not develop rubella and no further action is needed in such cases. But, if the person is   not immune and comes into contact with someone with rubella then blood tests may be advised. These can tell if you are developing rubella before symptoms begin. Further action then depends on the results of these tests.

See a doctor if you are pregnant and develop an illness that you think may be rubella. Other viruses can cause similar rashes similar to rubella. Most viruses do not harm the unborn child. Blood tests can confirm or rule out rubella if it is suspected.

In the most unlikely scenario, that you are confirmed to have rubella, then you will be referred to an obstetrician to discuss the possibility of your baby having congenital rubella syndrome. There is no effective treatment to prevent the development of congenital rubella syndrome.

There is no treatment for killing viruses. Generally peole are given symptomatic treatment. Paracetamol will ease fever or aches and pains. Ibuprofen is an alternative. Children should be given lots to drink if they have a fever. See a doctor if any worrying or unusual symptoms develop.

Immunisation against rubella is included in immunisation protocol. It is given along with MMR vaccine. Two doses of the vaccine are needed to provide satisfactory protection against rubella.

Two doses of this vaccine are required to provide satisfactory protection against rubella. The first dose is given between 15 and 18 months of age this is followed by a booster injection given at age 3 years and four months to 5 years .If a dose of MMR is delayed for any reason it can still be given at a later age. MMR vaccine can be given at any age, but then, the second dose is given within one month after the first one, however, if the first dose of MMR has been given when the child is under one year old (for example, if they are travelling to an area with rubella so need the vaccine early) then two further doses of the vaccine are then needed.

It is extremely important that all children be immunised against the rubella virus to prevent any complications of rubella occurring.

If you are a woman and are planning to get pregnant, if you are unsure if you are immune then see your practice nurse. A blood test will confirm if you are immune. If you are not immune then you can be immunised before you become pregnant

Alphabetical Index of Health Topics

If you already know your diagnosis, you may search for the health topic alphabetically here. Hold your cursor over the health topics link in the line below.

Write A Comment


Topic of the Month

Womb Transplant


The new game changer in infertility. Know more about this revolutionary technique.

Continue Reading »

Health Video of the Month

Womb Transplant

Disclaimer: This health video may contain graphic material and viewer discretion is advised.