Rubella, also known as German measles is a contagious viral disease caused by Togavirus. The infection is usually mild, with fever and rash that lasts for 3 days and affects non immune children and young adults worldwide. Rubella epidemic made a comeback every 5-9 years, before the vaccine was used to immunize young children. Rubella virus is known to infect the women of childbearing age, just before conception or during early pregnancy, leading to miscarriage, fetal death or congenital defects like Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS) in newborns.
- Symptoms of the disease appear during the second week after exposure to Rubella virus. Mild Fever (99-100°F) and an itchy rash (characteristic pink or red coloured spots merging into patches) appears on the face and spreads downward covering the whole body. These symptoms last for 2-3 days among young children and as the rash clears, the affected skin sheds.
- Older children and adults can have headaches, loss of appetite, mild conjunctivitis, cold symptoms, swollen lymph nodes and joint pain (in young women) before the onset of rash. Rubella can also be without symptoms in many adults.
- Rubella in pregnant women gives rise to the serious complications in developing fetus like mental retardation, heart defects, deafness, eye defects, liver, spleen and bone marrow damage.
How is Rubella contagious?
Rubella virus is transmitted by mucous droplets from the infected person by coughing and sneezing. It passes to the unborn fetus through the blood of infected pregnant women.