GERMAN MEASLES (RUBELLA)
The disease is more common in school going children. The child is infectious from a few days
before the rash
appears, to a week thereafter.
German measles can be serious in a pregnant woman. All women of reproductive age should
be familiar with this disease. When German measles affects a pregnant woman,
her baby may develop certain deformities, specially if
she acquires the infection in the first 3 months of pregnancy. As the deformities may be serious (involving the brain,
eyes and heart), all pregnant women should stay away from a known case of German measles.
If you are pregnant and have come in contact with a
patient who has had an illness with fever and rash, but you are
not sure if it is German measles, the best thing for you
would be to speak to your doctor. He may order you to have blood
tests to confirm. At times, the blood test needs to be repeated. If your doctor concludes that you have been recently
infected with German measles, he may suggest an abortion. As mentioned earlier, the risk to the baby is greater if
the infection takes place in the first 3 months of
pregnancy. You should then discuss the issue with the doctor along
with your husband and then decide whether or not to have an abortion.
SYMPTOMS: A typical case
of German measles presents with fever, rash and painful glands in the neck. The
fever is not very high. The rash is also not so severe as in
measles. The distinctive feature is the enlargement of the glands behind the ears and the back of the head
and neck, which
feel tender to the touch. The total illness lasts about 5
days. The rash starts with the face and then spreads downwards to disappear within 2 to 3 days.
TREATMENT: Treatment is often not required. If fever bothers the child, he may be given
paracetamol. The important precaution that parents must take is to
restrict the movements of the child having German measles so that he does not come in contact with a pregnant
PREVENTION: MMR vaccine (against measles, mumps and rubella or German measles) is
available. It is quite effective and can be given after the age of 1 year. If
your child has been given the measles vaccine around the age of 9 months, MMR vaccine is to be given around
15 months of age. Rubella vaccine may also be repeated at puberty.
If a woman of reproductive age receives the rubella vaccine without realising that
she was pregnant, no abortion need be suggested. Studies of such cases do
not show any congenital abnormality in the baby.
11 February, 2013