Immunizations have helped to all but eliminate many diseases, especially diseases that can strike in
childhood such as polio, chickenpox and rubella. Rubella is commonly referred to as the German measles but the cause of the disease is not the same virus as the measles. The rubella virus is an infection that usually affects the skin and lymph nodes. Immunizations against it have largely eliminated the disease and most cases now occur in young adults who were not immunized.
The Symptoms of Rubella
In general, the disease in children is usually mild and often resolved within a few days. The virus is passed droplets from the nose or throat that are breathed in by others. It is accompanied by a mild fever, which runs between 99 and 100 degrees. There is some swelling of the lymph nodes at the back of the neck or behind the ears and they are usually tender.
Often a rash is the first sign of the disease that parents will see. The rash starts on the face and spreads downward. As the rash spreads, it clears up on the face. It appears as pink or red dots, which can merge together. The rash is often itchy, but it usually goes away in about three days. The skin may be flaky and shed in fine flakes once the rash has cleared up.
Rubella in Teens and Young Adults
While the disease may have other occupying symptoms in teenagers and young adults, but it is still a mild disease. While many people will never experience symptoms with the disease, others may have headaches, a loss of appetite and conjunctivitis, which is the inflammation of the lining of eyelids and eyeballs, often known as pinkeye. A runny or stuffy nose, swollen lymph nodes, as well as pain and swelling of the joints are other symptoms that can occur.
Rubella in Pregnant Women
The most serious cases of rubella can occur when a pregnant woman has it as she can pass it on to
her unborn fetus. Congenital Rubella Syndrome can be extremely dangerous for a developing fetus. They are put at risk for health consequences like mental retardation, malformed hearts or eyes, stunted growth, deafness, as well as problems with bone marrow, liver or spleen.
Spreading the Virus
When a person first comes down with rubella, they are most contagious period is from one week before the rash develops to one week after it appears. Even if that person has no symptoms, they can still spread the virus because others can breathe in the droplets from their nose or throat when the infected person sneezes or coughs. Infants can pass the virus through contact with their urine, as well as secretions, for a year or more and they can pass the virus to people who haven’t been immunized against the disease.
The incubation period for rubella is between 14 and 23 days, though the average incubation is 16 to 18 days. This means it takes about 2 to 3 weeks before a child comes down with the disease when they’ve been exposed to it. Since it is a virus, antibiotics are ineffective against it, but it usually resolves on its own, unless the symptoms get worse.
Contact your doctor if your child runs a fever of 102 degrees or higher and/or they appear to be sicker than the symptoms indicate.
The only way to prevent the disease is to be immunized against it. The immunization is part of the
MMR, measles-mumps-rubella, shot that is first given to infants from 12 to 15 months old. The
second immunization of MMR is usually given to a young child between 4 and 6 years old. There are exceptions to immunization schedules that can be made, such as traveling outside of the country.
A pregnant woman should not receive a the vaccination shot, neither should a woman receive a shot within one month of the time they are trying to get pregnant. You can check your rubella immunization status through a blood test or proof that you’ve been immunized against it. Through vaccinations, this diseases has all but died out, but take precautions around sick people to limit exposure to diseases of all types.