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If tiny red dots start inching their way to your face and to the rest of your body, be careful. Don’t hastily dismiss the situation as a case of heat rash. It may just be rubella.

Discovered in the eighteenth century by German doctors, Rubella is often referred to as German Measles.

Rubella is a disease brought by infection from the Rubella Virus. There are generally two kinds of rubella – acquired and congenital.


The acquired Rubella can be contracted by simply coming into contact with the bodily fluids of a sick person. If an infected person sneezes or coughs nearby, the virus can very quickly infect other people. When infection occurs this way, the disease is termed as acquired rubella.

Rubella enters the body through the lungs. Upon its entrance, the cells of the respiratory tract will be invented. Eventually, the virus will reach the lymph nodes and inevitably spread to the blood. Once in the blood, the body will release an immune response that will fight the virus. After this, the body will have developed lifetime immunity for the virus.

Rubella is highly common in children and compared to the few adults who contract Rubella, children recover faster.

If it is a case of acquired rubella, the disease will need an incubation period. This means that while you may have been exposed to the virus today, it can take around two to three weeks for the actual disease to develop. Only then will the signs and symptoms start manifesting.

So, what are the telltale signs of Acquired Rubella?

The term Rubella was derived from a Latin word that literally meant ‘little red’. This was in reference to the most prevalent symptom of rubella – tiny, red rashes. The rashes usually start in the face and eventually move down to the trunk and to the limbs. After around three days, the rashes will fade on their own. There will be no scarring or peeling.

Slight fever, dizziness, runny nose and joint swelling may also follow. The patient may even experience some redness in the eyes as well as inflammation in the lymph nodes.

In adult patients, symptoms of appetite loss, inflammation of the eyelid and eye balls, runny nose and swollen lymph nodes may be experienced. Because the disease is so mild, some people catch and recover from the disease without feeling any symptom whatsoever. And even if symptoms do appear, they usually last for only three days. This is where the term ‘three-day measles come from’.


As for the treatment, the patient’s temperature must be observed. If the fever goes above 102 Fahrenheit, then you can call the doctor. Otherwise, the disease will simply take care of itself and the patient will heal without much medical assistance. However, the patient may feel the swelling of his lymph nodes for about a week. He may also feel joint pain for more than two weeks.

On the other hand, there are instances when the virus can be contracted from the pregnant mother to her unborn child. This is called congenital rubella syndrome (CRS). 20% of CRS cases result to spontaneous abortion. However, if the child survived throughout the pregnancy and was delivered, there are still very serious complications.
Image: Rubella

In CRS, the child may be delivered with birth defects, specifically in the heart, brain and in the ears. If the disease was contracted in the first trimester, the situation is much more crucial since the Rubella virus can pass through the placenta and stop the cells from developing. While in the womb, the baby may also develop hepatitis and anemia. If the fetus survives and was delivered, he may be born with blindness, deafness and heart abnormalities.

CRS is truly devastating to unborn children. CRS can even lead to mental retardation. It can even halt or slow the development of the liver and the spleen. The bone marrow may also be affected.

Even after the baby is born, symptoms and complications of Rubella will persist for at least a year. Later on, kinds who suffered from CRS may also develop diabetes mellitus. His growth may also be impeded and his thyroid may also malfunction.

Also, children who suffered CRS will continue to secrete the virus through his feces and his urine. This will continue until the child is a year old.

Although Rubella is fairly harmless in children, its effects are catastrophic to infants. So, the most important thing to remember is that rubella is highly preventable. There are now vaccines for the disease.

These vaccines are now readily available in community health centers for very low charges.

The vaccine is part of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) immunization. The first dose is given when kids are between 12 – 15 months old. The second dose will follow when the children are between four and six.

Aside from children, women who plan to get pregnant must also consider getting the vaccine (if they don’t have it yet). This is because once a pregnant woman acquires rubella, her baby is immediately put to such a high risk for birth defects. In fact, 85% of pregnant women who were infected with rubella, ended up giving birth to children with abnormalities.

However, women must be careful since they can only get the vaccine well before their actual pregnancy. Once she gets the vaccine, she should not get pregnant within a minimum of six months.

If the pregnant woman is unvaccinated, she must stay away from infected persons. As soon as she delivers the baby, she must get the vaccine immediately. This is so she can be protected from the virus during future pregnancies.

With the success of the vaccine, Rubella decreased in occurrence. In fact, it was reported that around 90% of the population is completely safeguarded from the disease. Of course there are people who can still get the disease and this is largely because there are many immigrants came from poor countries and were not able to get properly vaccinated.

Rubella is a disease that you can catch and recover from very quickly. However, you must make sure you get vaccinated, not only for yourself but as prevention for the pregnant/ would-be pregnant women in your community.
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