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Rubella: Causes, Symptoms and Prevention

Dr. Bindu

Dr. Bindu

  Attapur, Hyderabad     Jul 13, 2019

   3 min     


What is Rubella?

Rubella is also known as German measles, or the three-day measles occurs due to a viral infection. The culprit here is rubella virus which generally causes no or mild symptoms in children, but when it infects a pregnant lady, it can cause severe harm to the unborn child, including deafness.

Not to be mistaken Rubella with measles (rubeola), although the symptoms of both may be similar. A different strain of the virus causes rubella, and it is not as severe as measles.

Causes of Rubella

Rubella virus passes from person to person. Someone can get Rubella when he/she is exposed to the infected person's coughs or sneezes. It can also spread via direct contact with an infected person's respiratory secretions. Other than that, an infected mother can also transmit the disease to her unborn child.

A person with rubella virus is contagious for one to two weeks before the rashes appear until about one or two weeks after the rash disappears — Rubella usually occurs in unvaccinated foreign-born adults.

Symptoms of Rubella

The symptoms are so mild that they're difficult to notice. It appears between two and three weeks after the exposure to the virus and lasts for about one to five days. The symptoms are:

•    Red/pink rashes on the skin (begins on the face and then spreads)

•    Mild fever (102 F)

•    A runny nose

•    A mild constant headache

•    Stuffy nose

•    Inflamed eyes

•    Red eyes

•    Swollen glands (lymph nodes) behind the ears, the base of the skull, and behind the ears

•    Joints pain

What are the complications associated with Rubella?

Once you have had Rubella, you are usually permanently immune. Some women may experience arthritis in the fingers, wrist and knees, which generally lasts for about a month. In very rare cases, Rubella can cause ear infection or inflammation of the brain.

If you are pregnant and infected with Rubella, then the consequences of your unborn child may be severe. Most infants born to mothers who had Rubella during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy develop congenital rubella syndrome. This syndrome can cause several problems, including:

  • Growth retardation
  • Cataracts
  • Deafness
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Defects in other organs
  • Intellectual disabilities

How is Rubella diagnosed?

Rubella rashes can be confused with any other rashes. So, the doctors usually confirm Rubella with the help of blood test, which can detect the presence of different types of rubella antibodies in the blood.

How is Rubella treated?

The best way is to get vaccinated. A single dose of rubella vaccine gives more than 95% long-lasting immunity. Generally, the rubella vaccine is combined with the measles-mumps-rubella inoculation, and given to children at 12 and 15 months of age, and again between 4 and six years of age. It is very important that girls get vaccinated to prevent Rubella during future pregnancies.

Who doesn't needs the MMR vaccine?

You don't need a vaccine if you:

  • Had two doses of the MMR vaccine after 12 months of age
  • Have blood tests that indicate you are immune to measles, mumps, and Rubella.
  • You are born before 1957

The vaccine is not recommended for:

  • Pregnant women or women who are planning to get pregnant within the next four week.
  • People who have had an allergic reaction to gelatin, the antibiotic neomycin or a previous dose of MMR vaccine.

You should get a vaccine if you are:

  • A non-pregnant woman of childbearing age
  • College going or school going
  • Work in a hospital, medical facility, childcare centre
  • Plan to travel overseas
Tags:  causes of rubella,symptoms of rubella,prevention of rubella,complications of rubella,MMR vaccine,

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