Understanding Rubella (German Measles)
Rubella, also known as German measles, is a highly contagious viral infection, spread by direct contact with an infected person or airborne droplets, such as coughing or sneezing. It is characterized by a rash, low fever, burns, and sore throat. If contracted during the early stages of pregnancy, rubella can cause devastating fetal damage.
The most distinguishing symptom of rubella is a rash of small, red spots that spreads from the face to the rest of the body. Other symptoms include mild fever, swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, joint and muscle aches, and tiredness.
Rubella is caused by a virus called rubivirus. The virus is spread from person to person, usually through the air by coughing, sneezing, or contact with saliva or nasal secretions.
The most effective way to prevent rubella is to get vaccinated. Rubella vaccine is given in combination with measles-mumps-varicella (MMR) vaccine. Vaccination is recommended for all children at age 12 to 15 months, and then again at age 4 to 6 years. Vaccination is especially important for people who may be exposed to rubella, such as health care workers, people traveling to areas with high rates of rubella, and pregnant women.
Health Implications of Rubella
In most cases, the symptoms of rubella usually go away on their own within a few weeks. However, if a pregnant woman is exposed to rubella, the virus can cause serious birth defects in her unborn baby, including brain damage and heart defects. Therefore, it is important for expecting mothers to get vaccinated against rubella. It is also important for everyone to practice good hygiene, such as frequent handwashing, to help prevent the spread of the virus.