Dermatology

Rubella (German Measles)

Introduction to Rubella (German Measles)

Rubella (also known as German measles), is a viral infection that is common in children.

Written by Doctify Team 27/04/2020

What is Rubella?

Rubella (also known as German measles), is a viral infection that is common in children. It is typically a mild condition that gets better without treatment. Rubella is rare in the UK as routine immunization against rubella is offered.

What are the causes for Rubella?

Rubella, as the name suggests, is caused by Rubella togavirus, a type of virus. The mode of transmission resembles cold or flu. It is transmitted by the respiratory route and replicates in the nasopharynx and lymph nodes, through droplets of moisture from the nose of someone who has been infected.

What are the symptoms of Rubella?

A person is contagious for about one or two weeks before developing symptoms, this is known as the incubation period. The symptoms are quite similar to flu. Rash may appear on the face which spreads to the limbs and fades after three days. Hence, it is also referred to as three-day measles. The rash is usually pink or light red. Other symptoms include fever, headache, or swollen glands around the head and neck. Aching and painful joints are symptoms that are more common in adults.

How is Rubella treated?

Immunisations using live, disabled virus vaccines can help to prevent rubella infections. This vaccine is now given as part of the MMR vaccine, which is part of the routine childhood immunisation programme. The first dose is usually given at 12 to 18 months of age with a second dose at 36 months. MMR can also be given to older children and adults who have not been fully immunised before. Routine vaccination helps to reduce risk of large outbreaks. Other parts of the whole, such as Africa, Asia and South America are more prevalent to rubella and you are recommended to have the MMR vaccine prior to travelling.

If you are trying for a baby, you should consult your GP to test for your immunity to rubella before you become pregnant, as immunity can reduce over time even if you have had the MMR vaccine before. It is not recommended to have MMR vaccine during pregnancy. The vaccine, however, can be given to breastfeeding mothers without any risk to their baby.

If necessary, pain killers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen can be used to reduce a fever and relieve pain. Liquid infant paracetamol is available for young children. A cool compress can also help to reduce high temperature. You should make sure your child drinks plenty of fluids to keep them hydrated. Warm drinks containing lemon or honey can help to relax airways and soothe a cough.

If you suspect rubella, contact your GP immediately to confirm the diagnosis as the symptoms may be caused by a more serious illness. You should also report any cases of rubella so that spread of infection can be tracked down.

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