Rubella (German Measles)
Rubella or German Mealses is a mild disease caused by a virus. Rubella is dangerous to pregnant women as it can affect the development of unborn babies, causing Congential Rubella Syndrome.
What is Rubella?
Rubella is a mild disease caused by a virus. Children who catch it are not normally very unwell. However, it is dangerous for unvaccinated pregnant women to come in contact with it as it can affect the unborn baby with a condition called Congential Rubella Syndrome. If you are pregnant and vaccinated against rubella, you should be protected if you come into contact with it.
Symptoms include a low-grade fever, malaise and a rash. The rash is red and normally seen behind the ears and on the face and neck and spreads across the whole body. It is normally transitory and rather non-specific (i.e. it looks like a lot of rashes).
- normally few or no symptoms
- low-grade fever
- feeling unwell
- swollen tender lymph nodes
- runny nose
- loss of appetite
- conjunctivitis (red eyes)
- pain and swelling in joints
The rash normally starts on the face and spreads downwards. As it spreads downwards, the face gets better. It looks like many other viral rashes with pink or light red spots which can merge to form patches. It can itch and normally lasts 3 days. Sometimes the skin flakes as the rash fades.
Rubella Incubation Period
The incubation period is 14-17 days. Normally the rash appear about 14 days after exposure. Individuals are infectious from one week before symptoms to four days after the onset of the rash.
Rubella is spread by droplet infection.
Complications of German Measles
Complications are rare in childhood.
Congenital Rubella Syndrome
Rubella is a very serious illness as maternal rubella infection in pregnancy can lead to the death of the foetus or congenital rubella syndrome (CRS). Babies with congenital rubella syndrome often have multiple problems including eye problems, deafness, heart problems and brain problems and intellectual disability.
Vaccination for Rubella
Vaccination for rubella began in 1970 but only targeted at pre-pubertal girls and non-immune women. In 1988 the MMR vaccine was introduced universally. Since then the number of babies born with congenital rubella syndrome has fallen considerably.
Rubella (German Measles) Summary
German Measles is a mild illness in children. The main danger of German Measles is when unvaccinated pregnant women come into contact with the virus and may result in Congenital Rubella Syndrome.