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Rubella (German Measles)

Rubella (German Measles)

February 12, 2024
Rubella (German Measles)

Rubella, commonly known as German Measles, is a contagious viral infection. It is caused by the RuV virus. Most rubella cases are mild, with symptoms including a low-grade fever and sore throat. Rash that begins on the face and spreads throughout the body may also appear.

Rubella-infected pregnant women can pass it on to their unborn children, resulting in heart problems, vision and hearing impairments, and other complications. Vaccination can help prevent rubella.

What causes Rubella?

Rubella is sometimes known as German measles or three-day measles. Even though it produces a rash similar to measles, is caused by the RuV virus. 

The virus is primarily transmitted through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can also spread through direct contact with respiratory secretions or touching contaminated surfaces. It’s highly contagious, with individuals most contagious one week before and after the onset of rash.

What are the symptoms of Rubella?

Rubella signs and symptoms are generally difficult to notice. Symptoms typically occur two to three weeks after viral infection. They typically persist from 1 to 5 days and may include:

·      Headache

·      A mild fever of 102 F (38.9 C) or below

·      Stuffy or runny nose

·      Enlarged, painful lymph nodes at the base of the skull, behind the ears, and at the back of the neck.

·      Red and itching eyes

·      Rash that starts on the face. This swiftly spreads to the trunk, then the arms and legs.

·      Aching joints, especially in young women.

What are the complications of Rubella?

While Rubella is generally a mild illness, it can lead to severe complications, especially in certain populations:

1.  Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS):

The most significant risk of this infection occurs when pregnant women contract the virus. CRS can result in serious birth defects, including:

·      Deafness

·      Cataracts

·      heart defects

·      intellectual disabilities

2.  Miscarriage:

Rubella infection during early pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage. Pregnant women must avoid contact with infected individuals.

Rubella Prevention

1.  Vaccination

Rubella prevention is best achieved with MMR immunization. It is around 97% effective at preventing rubella infections. Rubella vaccination might include either the MMR or MMRV vaccines.

·      MMR vaccination. The MMR vaccine prevents measles, mumps, and rubella. Anyone older than 12 months can receive the MMR immunization.

·      MMRV Vaccine. The MMRV vaccine protects against measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella. Only children aged 12 months to 12 years old can receive the MMRV vaccine.

2.  Timing of Vaccination

Healthcare providers recommend MMR vaccine at 12-15 months and again at 4-6 years. This schedule ensures protection before entering school.

3.  Lifelong Protection

MMR vaccine provides lifelong protection against rubella. Getting vaccinated helps prevent rubella during future pregnancies.

4.  Protection for Babies

Babies born to vaccinated or immune mothers are protected for 6 to 8 months. For early protection (before 12 months), the vaccine can be given as early as 6 months.

5.  Combination Vaccine Benefits

Combining MMR vaccine with others prevents delays in protection against measles, mumps, and rubella. The combination vaccine is safe, and effective, and requires fewer shots.

Understanding Rubella, its causes, symptoms, prevention, and treatment is paramount in safeguarding public health, particularly for vulnerable populations. Vaccination remains the cornerstone of prevention. It not only protects individuals but also helps in the global effort to eliminate this contagious virus.

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