Rubella, sometimes known as German measles or three-day measles is caused by the Togaviridae virus. Note that German measles is not the same as measles. Although, it is transmitted from one person to another by respiratory droplets, the rubella virus can also be passed through the blood from an infected mother to her baby during pregnancy. Referred to as congenital rubella, rubella contracted this way can cause significant and permanent damage to the baby, especially if the infection occurs early on during the pregnancy. This is why pregnant mothers and women planning to become pregnant are routinely tested for evidence of past rubella infection or vaccination. If a person has had either a rubella vaccination, or had a rubella infection in the past, they are considered protected against this infection
After a 14-21 day incubation period, rubella infections start with mild nonspecific, cold-like symptoms, with pain along the lymph nodes of the neck region and throat. After about 24 hours, a rash develops all over the body. The rash usually disappears within 3 days. People with rubella are contagious from one week before to one week after the rash appears. There is no available treatment and the infection usually resolves on its own without any consequences. Rare complications of rubella include arthritis, infection of the nerves (neuritis) and, in some extremely rare cases, chronic brain infections.
The best approach is ensuring that your child is immunized against rubella. The rubella vaccine is part of the routine childhood vaccine series. Thanks to the vaccine, rubella cases are now relatively rare. For women who plan to be pregnant and have not yet been vaccinated against rubella, or are unsure whether they have had rubella or a vaccine against the disease, it is a good idea to speak to your healthcare provider to ensure you are protected against rubella.
Pediatrician DR.PAUL Roumeliotis is certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. The information provided above is designed to be an educational aid only. It is not intended to replace the advice and care of your child’s physician, nor is it intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. If you suspect that your child has a medical condition always consult a physician.