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Rubella (German measles): Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About Rubella (German measles)

Rubella is a common childhood viral infection, primarily affecting the skin and the lymph nodes. Rubella is also called as ‘German measles’ or ‘Three days fever’. The virus was first isolated in tissue cultures in 1963. Before the invention of the rubella vaccine, the disease was very much common in children and pregnant women. Nowadays, rubella is endemic in countries without vaccination policies. Prevalence of the diseases is more in the early summer and spring.

Rubella (German measles): Incidence, age and sex

Incidence rate is low due to availability of the measles vaccine. Only 200 to 300 cases are reported annually in developed countries, which is quite high compared with cases in the pre-vaccine era. Incidence is more common in children than adults.

Signs and symptoms of rubella (German measles): Diagnosis

Onset of rubella starts in the form of mild fever for one to two days followed by gradual appearance of rash on the body. Hallmark of the disease is the rubella rash which appears as reddish or pinkish spots. Rash starts from the face and slowly spreads downward to the trunk and limbs. Rubella rash remain for two to three days and gradually disappears leaving no marks or scar on the body. Along with fever and rash, the patient also suffers from swollen glands, joint pain, headache and itching due to the rash. A small red papule inside the mouth on the soft palate is present in a few cases of such measles.

The characteristic rash of rubella is confirmative in diagnosis of rubella. No gold standard laboratory test is available for the diagnosis of rubella.

Causes and prevention of rubella (German measles)

Causative agent of rubella is the Rubella virus which belongs to the Togavirus family. The infective person may spread infection via droplets or fluids from nose. Sick individuals may transmit infection till one week after disappearance of rash.

Rubella can be prevented successfully through vaccination. Generally, the vaccine is given as part of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) immunization to children during the age of 12 to 15 months. A second booster dose of MMR is given at 4-6 years of age.

Rubella (German measles): Complications

Complications of rubella in children are very rare and may include inflammation of the brain tissues resulting in encephalitis. Infection in pregnant women leads to a major health concern in the baby who may develop congenital rubella syndrome. New born with rubella syndrome suffer from congenital heart defects, deafness, liver or spleen damage and eye problems.

Rubella (German measles): Treatment

Rubella is a viral infection and thus there is no specific treatment available for its cure. Supportive care or symptomatic treatment is sufficient to tackle the disease. Symptomatic treatment includes antipyretic for high temperature, analgesics for pain relief and adequate rest.