Rubella (german measles)

General or Other | General Practice | Rubella (german measles) (Disease)


Rubella - commonly known as German measles or 3-day measles - is an infection that primarily affects the skin and lymph nodes.

In children rubella infection is usually either asymptomatic or with mild constitutional symptoms accompanied by an evanescent rash, which is often missed. In adults, infection is generally accompanied by an illness although this is likely to be mild.

Causes and Risk factors

It is caused by the rubella virus (not the same virus that causes measles), which is usually transmitted by droplets from the nose or throat that others breathe in. It can also pass through a pregnant womans bloodstream to infect her unborn child. Rubella virus belongs to the rubivirus genus of the family Togaviridae, for which humans are apparently the only host.

Rubella is an enveloped single-stranded RNA virus which is relatively fragile, multiplies in and is transmitted from the respiratory tract of infected individuals. The virus gains access to the bloodstream resulting in widespread dissemination throughout the body. In pregnant women, rubella can infect the placenta leading to fetal infection with varying degrees of fetal damage.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Rubella cannot be treated with antibiotics because they do not work against viral infections. Unless there are complications, rubella will resolve on its own.

Any pregnant woman who has been exposed to rubella should contact her obstetrician immediately. Rubella is typically mild in kids, who often can be cared for at home.

To relieve minor discomfort, you can give your child acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Aspirin should not be given to a child with a viral illness because such use has been associated with the development of Reye syndrome, which can lead to liver failure and death. ...