Rubella (German Measles)

German measles, also known as rubella, is a viral infection that causes a red rash on the body. Aside from the rash, people with German measles usually have a fever and swollen lymph nodes. The infection can spread from person to person through contact with droplets from an infected person’s sneeze or cough. This means that you can get German measles if you touch your mouth, nose, or eyes after touching something that has droplets from an infected person on it. You may also get German measles by sharing food or drinks with someone who’s infected.

German measles is rare in the United States. With the introduction of the rubella vaccine in the late 1960s, the incidence of German measles significantly declined. However, the condition is still common in many other parts of the world. It mainly affects children, more commonly those between 5 and 9 years old, but it can also occur in adults.

German measles is typically a mild infection that goes away within one week, even without treatment. However, it can be a serious condition in pregnant women, as it may cause congenital rubella syndrome in the fetus. Congenital rubella syndrome can disrupt the development of the baby and cause serious birth defects, such as heart abnormalities, deafness, and brain damage. It’s important to get treatment right away if you’re pregnant and suspect you have German measles.

What are the symptoms of German measles?
The symptoms of German measles are often so mild that they’re difficult to notice. When symptoms do occur, they usually develop within two to three weeks after the initial exposure to the virus. They often last about three to seven days and may include:

pink or red rash that begins on the face and then spreads downward to the rest of the body
mild fever, usually under 102°F
swollen and tender lymph nodes
runny or stuffy nose
muscle pain
inflamed or red eyes
Although these symptoms may not seem serious, you should contact your doctor if you suspect you have German measles. This is especially important if you’re pregnant or believe you may be pregnant.

In rare cases, German measles can lead to ear infections and brain swelling. Call your doctor immediately if you notice any of the following symptoms during or after a German measles infection:

prolonged headache
stiff neck

What causes German measles?
German measles is caused by the rubella virus. This is a highly contagious virus that can spread through close contact or through the air. It may pass from person to person through contact with tiny drops of fluid from the nose and throat when sneezing and coughing. This means that you can get the virus by inhaling the droplets of an infected person or touching an object contaminated with the droplets. German measles can also be transmitted from a pregnant woman to her developing baby through the bloodstream.

People who have German measles are most contagious from the week before the rash appears until about two weeks after the rash goes away. They can spread the virus before they even know that they have it.

How does German measles affect pregnant women?

When a woman contracts German measles during pregnancy, the virus can be passed on to her developing baby through her bloodstream. This is called congenital rubella syndrome. Congenital rubella syndrome is a serious health concern, as it can cause miscarriages and stillbirths. It can also cause birth defects in babies who are carried to term, including:

  • delayed growth
  • intellectual disabilities
  • heart defects
  • deafness
  • poorly functioning organs


Women of childbearing age should have their immunity to rubella tested before becoming pregnant. If a vaccine is needed, it’s important to get it at least 28 days before trying to conceive.

Difference Between Measles and German Measles
The most important difference between these two conditions is that the causative viruses are not the same. So it is necessary to remember, that immunization against one particular type would not give protection against the other for sure. Furthermore, the signs and symptoms of the two types can also differ from one another along with the areas affected.

Courtesy : Healthline

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