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German Measles


Romena Salazar Monderondo

 German measles, also called rubella, is a
rare condition in the United States. With the
introduction of the rubella vaccine in the late
1960s, the incidence of German measles has
significantly declined. But the disease does still
exist in other parts of the world. German
measles is rarely threatening, but pregnant
women and fetuses can suffer adverse
What Causes German Measles (Rubella)?
German measles (rubella) is caused by a highly
contagious virus. A patient is contagious in the
week before the rash outbreak until two
weeks after the rash clears. The virus is spread
when you inhale or touch secretions from an
infected person. The virus may be passed
through the bloodstream from a pregnant
woman to her fetus.
Who Is at Risk?
 These days, German measles (rubella) is rare in the
United States, thanks to vaccines that typically provide
lifelong immunity. Most cases occur in immigrants born
in countries where German measles is more common.
Americans who have recently traveled abroad may
cause outbreaks if they catch the virus and bring it
home with them.
 Since the rubella vaccine is given between 12 and 15
months of age, infants and young toddlers who have
not received the vaccine are at greater risk of
contracting German measles.
 Because German measles threatens fetuses, many
women who become pregnant are given a blood test
to confirm immunity.
What Are the Symptoms of German
Measles (Rubella)?
Symptoms often last three to seven days. They may
 mild fever (under 102 degrees Fahrenheit)
 runny or stuffy nose
 headache
 muscle pain
 inflamed or red eyes (may develop into
 swollen lymph nodes
 a pink rash that starts on the face and spreads
What Is Congenital Rubella Syndrome?

If a woman contracts German measles during pregnancy, it can pass to

her fetus through her bloodstream. This is called congenital rubella
syndrome. Some affected fetuses miscarry or are stillborn. Fetuses
that are carried to term may suffer from birth defects, which can
 delayed growth
 learning disabilities
 heart defects
 deafness
 poorly functioning organs
 Women of childbearing age should have their immunity tested
before becoming pregnant. If a shot is needed, it is important to get
it at least 28 days before trying to conceive.
How Is German Measles (Rubella) Diagnosed and

Since German measles (rubella) appears similar to other

viruses that cause rashes, your doctor may confirm your
diagnosis with a blood test. The test detects antibodies in
your blood, which are present in infected and immune
patients. Whether or not you have German measles is
determined based on the levels of antibodies.
 Most cases of German measles are treated at home. Your
doctor may recommend that you be isolated from others
to prevent the virus from spreading.
 Pregnant women may be treated with antibodies called
hyperimmune globulin that can fight off the infection. This
can reduce your symptoms. But your baby may still develop
congenital rubella syndrome. An infant born with congenital
rubella will require treatment from specialists.
How Can I Prevent German Measles (Rubella)?

For most patients, vaccination is a safe and effective way to prevent German measles (rubella). The
German measles vaccine is typically combined with vaccines for the measles and mumps, as well as
varicella, the virus that causes chicken pox.
These shots are usually given between 12 and 15 months of age. A booster shot is needed between
four and six years of age. Since the vaccines contain small doses of the virus, mild fevers and rashes
may result. Side effects occur about in five to 15 percent of children who are vaccinated.
 If you do not know whether you’ve been vaccinated for German measles, it is important to have
your immunity tested, especially if one of the following applies to you:
 You are a woman of childbearing age and are not pregnant.
 You attend an educational facility.
 You work in a medical facility or school.
 You plan to travel out of the country.
 Your doctor recommends the test.

Patients with compromised immune systems, pregnant women, and women who plan to become
pregnant within a month should not be vaccinated, since the virus in the shot could cause adverse