What is Rubella?

Rubella, commonly known as German measles or three-day measles, is an infection caused by a virus. Rubella is usually a mild illness, but infection during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and severe birth defects in the baby. This is why it is important for women to be protected against this infection before getting pregnant.

Symptoms of Rubella

The symptoms of rubella usually appear two to three weeks after exposure to the virus. They may include:

  • Fever (low-grade)
  • Headache
  • Swollen lymph nodes, especially behind the ears
  • Enlarged spleen and/or liver
  • A rash that starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body over two to three days
  • Red, watery eyes (conjunctivitis)
  • Runny nose
  • Joint pain and/or swelling

Complications of Rubella

In general, rubella is a mild infection, but it can cause serious complications in some cases, including:

  • Birth defects in unborn babies of women infected during pregnancy
  • Damage to the fetus' brain, heart, eyes, and ears
  • Miscarriage or stillbirth
  • Deafness
  • Brain damage

Treatment of Rubella

There is no specific treatment for rubella. Most people will recover from the infection on their own in about a week. However, it is important to get medical advice if symptoms persist. Treatment may involve bed rest, fluids, fever-reducing medications, and avoiding harsh sunlight.

Prevention of Rubella

The best way to prevent rubella is to get the rubella vaccine. The vaccine is usually given to children at around 12-15 months old, with a booster dose at 4-6 years old. The rubella vaccine is safe and effective and is included in the usual course of childhood immunizations. Women who are planning pregnancy should also get the vaccine to make sure they are protected.