What is rubella? What causes rubella?

The terms rubella/ German measles / three-day measles refer to a mild viral infection commonly found in children. Usually this mild infection doesn’t last long and is often unnoticed in children. This relatively less serious infection caused by rubella virus is considered serious when pregnant women are affected. Pregnant women are at higher risk of complications if they are infected within the first 20 weeks of their pregnancy. This leads to congenital rubella syndrome which causes serious health problems for the baby such as growth delay, cataracts, deafness, heart problems and mental retardation. In 2012, 65 confirmed cases of rubella are reported in England and Wales. Number of reported cases coming up is less when compared to the 4000 cases reported in 1996.

What are the symptoms of rubella?

Symptoms of rubella usually begin with a mild fever. Other symptoms include,

  • Skin rash (either pink or red spots)
  • Head ache
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Poor appetite
  • Mild inflammation in the eyes
  • Joint pain

How is rubella diagnosed?

Laboratory tests are needed to diagnose rubella. Either a virus culture of a blood test is recommended to check for the presence of antibodies produced against rubella infection.

How is rubella treated?

Since rubella is a viral infection, antibiotics won’t work against it. You don’t have to take medication, if there isn’t any severe discomfort. The infection goes away on its own within a couple of days. Consult a doctor if the body temperature remains high for long. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be used to reduce minor discomforts. Avoid aspirin since there is a risk of developing the deadly reye syndrome leading to hepatic failure.

How to prevent rubella?

Immunization against rubella is the best way to avoid rubella infection. Rubella vaccination is recommended to children at 12-15 months of age. Rubella vaccination should not be given during pregnancy. Make sure that you are immune to rubella before getting pregnant. Vaccination should be taken at least a month prior to pregnancy, if you aren’t immune.

How much does it cost to treat rubella?

More than $200,000 is needed for the lifetime treatment of a baby born with congenital rubella syndrome (CRS).