Rubella, also called German measles or three-day measles, is a contagious viral infection best known by its distinctive red rash. Rubella is not the same as measles (rubeola), though the two illnesses do share some characteristics, including the red rash. However, rubella is caused by a different virus than measles, and is neither as infectious nor usually as severe as measles. The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, usually given to children in the United States twice before they reach school age, is highly effective in preventing rubella. Because of widespread use of the vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has declared rubella eliminated in the United States, but cautions parents to make sure their children are vaccinated to prevent its reemergence.
Rubella infection in a woman in the first 8 to 10 weeks of pregnancy results in death of or damage to the fetus in up to 90% of cases. Multiple defects are common (for example, deafness, blindness, brain and heart damage, and mental handicap) and late complications are being increasingly recognised. The risk lowers to about 10 to 20% if the mother gets rubella at 16 weeks gestation and defects are rare after 20 weeks. The signs and symptoms of rubella are often so mild they're difficult to notice, especially in children. If signs and symptoms do occur, they generally appear between two and three weeks after exposure to the virus.
They typically last about two to three days and may include:
Rubella is a mild infection. Once you've had the disease, you're usually permanently immune. Some women with rubella experience arthritis in the fingers, wrists and knees, which generally lasts for about one month. In rare cases, rubella can cause an ear infection (otitis media) or inflammation of the brain (encephalitis). However, if you're pregnant when you contract rubella, the consequences for your unborn child may be severe. Up to 90 percent of infants born to mothers who had rubella during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy develop congenital rubella syndrome. This syndrome can cause one or more problems,
The highest risk to the fetus is during the first trimester, but exposure later in pregnancy also is dangerous. There is no effective antiviral treatment for rubella. Treatment of symptoms includes plenty of fluids and pain relief if required. Paracetamol may be used to reduce fever and pain. Aspirin should not be given to children under 12 years of age unless specifically recommended by a doctor.