According to the Mayo Clinic, rubella is a viral infection that produces a red rash. Rubella is similar to measles, and is sometimes referred to as German measles or three-day measles. Though measles and rubella have similar symptoms, they are not the same illness. Both measles and rubella cause a red rash, but rubella is caused by a different virus and is not as severe as measles. It is a member of the genus Rubivirus and is part of the family Togaviridae.
A person can become infected by rubella through direct contact with someone who has the infection. Rubella can be spread through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or when in contact with respiratory fluids like mucus. A person infected with rubella can be contagious from ten days before the rash appears until one to two weeks after the rash disappears. The virus can be transmitted from a pregnant woman to her unborn child, which is why it is imperative that women who want to conceive should make sure they have been vaccinated.
Signs and Symptoms of Rubella
The signs and symptoms of rubella can be mild and difficult to detect. Some of the symptoms include fever, headache, a rash that begins on the face, runny nose, stuffy nose, swollen lymph nodes, and achy pains in the joints. Anyone exhibiting these symptoms should contact a doctor especially if they have been in contact with someone who has not been vaccinated against rubella or if they have been overseas in countries where rubella is more wide-spread.
To determine if a person has contracted the rubella virus, a doctor will usually ask questions such as: Have you been vaccinated for rubella? How long have you had symptoms, such as the rash and aching? Have you been exposed to anyone with rubella and/or recently traveled to a foreign country? Because the symptoms of rubella are similar to many other types of infections, the doctor will usually run some tests to determine if rubella is the cause of the illness. Usually a positive blood test will be the determining factor.
There is no treatment for rubella that will shorten the course of the infection, but those who have contracted the virus should be isolated while the infection runs its course. Fortunately, the symptoms of rubella are so mild that medical treatment is not usually needed. Resting and staying clear of others is the best treatment to overcome the virus. Some home remedies to ease the symptoms are bed rest and acetaminophen (Tylenol) to relieve discomfort from aches and reduce fever.
Thanks to vaccinations, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has declared rubella eliminated in the United States. The easiest way to prevent contraction and spread of rubella is to get vaccinated. The rubella vaccine is typically given as a combined measles mumps rubella vaccine (MMR), which brings together the most effective and safest forms of each vaccine. Health professionals recommend that children receive the MMR vaccine between twelve and fifteen months and again between four and six years of age or before they enter school. As with any medical treatment or procedure, there are some risks associated with vaccination. Although most people experience no side effects, approximately 15% of people will experience a fever, and roughly 5% of people will experience a rash. Some believe that vaccinations like MMR have contributed to the rise in the number of children who develop autism and choose not to vaccinate their children. However, there is no clear evidence that vaccination is the cause of the number of autism cases and the CDC recommends that all children be vaccinated for the rubella virus especially since it is highly contagious.