Rubella

1 What is Rubella?

Rubella is a disease also referred to as German measles, or three day measles.

This is a form of contagious viral infection which is known by its red rash.

However, it is not the same as measles. The two diseases are however similar including the development of the red rash.

Rubella is caused by a different virus other than measles, and is not very severe or very infectious. The measles, mumps and rubella MMR vaccine given to children in the United States twice before they reach school age is demonstrated to be very effective in preventing rubella.

The widespread use of the vaccine in the US led to the declaration of Rubella as eliminated. However, cautious parents vaccinate their children to prevent reemergence. 

2 Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of rubella are mild and many not be noticeable sometimes especially in children.

But if they occur, they may occur between two to three weeks after exposure. They may last 2 to 3 days and includes:

  • Mild fever of 38.9oC or lower,
  • Stuffy and running nose may be inflamed,
  • Red eyes and enlarged,
  • tender lymph may occur at the base of the skull,
  • the back of the neck and behind the ears.

It starts with a fine pink rash from the face and spreads to the trunk, arms and legs before they can disappear at the same rate.

One may have aching joints especially for women. When you think you have been exposed to rubella or have developed symptoms listed, report immediately to your doctor.

When contemplating of getting pregnant, consider checking your vaccination record so as to receive MMR inoculations. When a pregnant woman contracts rubella during her first trimester, the virus can induce death or serious birth defects in defect.

Rubella during pregnancy is the common cause of congenital deafness. Women need to be protected against rubella before pregnancy. They are therefore required to perform routine screening for immunity against rubella before pregnancy.

However, when you think that you have been exposed to rubella and you had never received a vaccine, contact your doctor immediately. A blood test may confirm your immunity. 

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3 Causes

The cause of rubella is a virus that easily spreads from a person to another.

  • It can also be spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
  • It mainly spreads as a result of the direct contact with an infected persons respiratory secretions.
  • It can also be spread by a pregnant woman to her unborn child through her blood stream.

A person with rubella can only spread the disease starting 10 days before the onset of the rash and then after 2 or three weeks after the rash has disappeared.

An infected person can also spread the illness even before she realizes that she has the infection. This infection is rare in the US since most of the children receive a vaccination early in life.

Sporadic cases however occur in unvaccinated foreign children and adults. This disease is also very common in many other parts of the world.

It is recommended to consider the prevalence of rubella on other countries before one travels abroad. This is important especially for the pregnant women. 

4 Making a Diagnosis

It is important that you make an appointment early as soon as you realize you have rubella to receive a diagnosis.

As usual, write down any questions you have for the doctor.

This will also prepare you to make informed responses to the questions you will be asked.

The doctor may want to know whether you have been vaccinated rubella before and may ask the following questions:

  • How long you have had your symptoms?
  • Whether you have been exposed to someone with rubella?
  • Have you travelled overseas recently or to a country rubella is prevalent?
  • Is there anything that improves your symptoms?
  • Is there anything that worsens your symptoms?

Inform at the customer desk that you suspect having an infectious disease. You may be directed to an isolation room or even be offered with masks.

Rubella rash sometimes behaves just like any other form of viral rash. Doctors may confirm rubella after laboratory tests have been done to confirm their presence.

Normally, a virus culture may be performed or  a blood test may also apply which will allow the detection of the different types of rubella antibodies in blood.

This antibodies are an indication that you had a recent infection or a rubella vaccine.

5 Treatment

Symptoms of rubella are so mild that treatment usually isn't necessary. 

It is often considered that isolation at the time it is discovered is the best management practice to prevent infection of other people.

When discovered at the time you are pregnant, discuss the risk of infection of your baby with doctors. However, if you wish to continue with your pregnancy, you will need antibodies called hyper immune globulin which can be used to fight infection.

This will significantly help reduce the symptoms but may not completely reduce the risk of eliminating the risk of your baby developing congenital rubella syndrome.

The existing support for infant children born with congenital rubella syndrome varies; it depends on the extent of the infants problems.

When there are multiple complications, one may need early treatment from a team of specialists. 

6 Prevention

Rubella vaccine is the main preventive method of the disease.

Rubella vaccine comes together with the measles and mumps vaccine. They contain the safest and very effective form of vaccine.

It is recommended that children need to receive the vaccine at the age of between 12-15 months of age and again between the age of 4-6 years of age.

Girls are especially required to receive rubella vaccine to prevent rubella during future pregnancies. The babies are protected from rubella for six to eight months after the birth due to the immunity that is passed on from the mothers to the children.

However, a child may need protection from rubella for reasons of foreign travel, the vaccine can be administered as early as 6 months of age. The children may also need to be vaccinated later in life. One will not need a MMR vaccine if they had 2 doses of MMR vaccine after 12 months of age.

One also need to do blood tests that can indicate that you are immune to measles, mumps and rubella. Any person born before the age of 1957 and had never had a rubella or you have had a positive rubella immunity test. One needs to get a vaccine if you are not a fit of the criteria above.

As a woman of child bearing age, going to school, trade, post-secondary school, work in a hospital and or in medical facility, child care center or school plan to travel overseas or take cruise. The vaccine will be recommended. However, it is not recommended for pregnant women who plan to deliver within the next four weeks.

People that may have suffered a life threatening reaction to the gelatin, the antibiotic, neomycin, or a previous dose of MMT vaccines. It has been shown that about 15% of the people develop fever between 7-12 days after vaccination.

Some people may develop a mild rash. Some teens and adult women may also develop joint pains and stiffness after getting the vaccine. Allergic reactions are reported but occur rarely at the rate of 0ne over a million doses.

In recent year, with the rise in the number of cases of autism, there has been suggestion of the the possible link between autism and MMR vaccine.

However, no link between autism and MMR has been established from findings made by the American academy of pediatrics, Institute of medicines and CDC.

However, there has not been found any benefit of separating the vaccines. 

7 Lifestyle and Coping

At the time the children or adult are infected with rubella simple lifestyle measures are needed. Bed rests are also necessary.

It is allowed to take acetaminophen to manage the discomforts from development of fever and aches.

Inform friends, family and co-workers  and pregnant women about your disease diagnosis if by any chance they happen to be exposed to the disease.

Avoid getting on contact with people that are have conditions that cause deficient or suppressed immune systems.

Inform your child service providers that your child has rubella.

8 Risks and Complications

There are several risks and complications associated with rubella.

Rubella is a mild infection. However, once you suffer from the disease, you develop immunity from the disease.

Some women with rubella experience arthritis in the fingers, wrists and knees. This may last for about one month. In some cases, rubella can cause an ear infection referred to as otitis media or inflammation of the brain (encephalitis).

If one is pregnant, the consequence may be severe for the unborn child. Up to about 90% of the infants born to mothers with rubella in their first 12 weeks or pregnancy develop congenital rubella syndrome. This syndrome can lead to one or more problems such as retardation in growth for children, cataracts, deafness, congenital heart defects, organ defects, mental retardation.

The highest risk for the fetus is at the first trimester but exposure later in pregnancy may also be dangerous. 

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