Rubella or German measles is a viral disease with a characteristic red rash. The name “Rubella” is derived from the Latin word which means “little red.” Vaccination against Rubella has resulted in a decline in the number of cases of both rubella infection and congenital rubella syndrome worldwide.
It is caused by the Rubella virus that belongs to a family of viruses called Togaviridae. The natural host for this virus is humans. The virus is transmitted through the nasal lining or epithelium. It is transmitted from the nasal secretions of infected individuals. From the nasal lining, it enters the bloodstream from where the virus travels to various sites in the body, including the brain, eyes, joints, lymph nodes in multiple parts of the body.For congenital rubella syndrome, transmission is through the placenta from the infected mother to the fetus. Infection during the early phases of pregnancy (first trimester) causes severe organ damage in the developing fetus.
Although the worldwide incidence of rubella and congenital rubella syndrome has decreased, it is still prevalent in countries where vaccination against rubella is not available. Morbidity and mortality associated with congenital rubella are higher. There is no association of infection rates with race, ethnicity, and gender as such. Males and females from all parts of the world are equally susceptible. Before the rubella vaccine was introduced, the disease was primarily seen in children between ages 5 to 14 years, but its incidence in adults older than 20 years, typically in the United States, has increased.
Most cases of rubella are asymptomatic. The incubation period is around 14 to 21 days. Before the onset of rash, the following symptoms can be observed:
Other findings of congenital rubella vary, depending upon the time of infection during pregnancy. Infections in the earlier part of pregnancy have more detrimental effects. These include:
Many cases of rubella may be asymptomatic, and the rash resembles a lot of viral infections. Therefore laboratory investigations for the diagnosis of rubella are of prime importance. These include:
Differential diagnoses for rubella are:
No specific anti-viral against rubella is available. Symptomatic treatment is provided to cope with troublesome manifestations.
Our clinical experts continually monitor the health and medical content posted on CURA4U, and we update our blogs and articles when new information becomes available. Last reviewed by Dr.Saad Zia on April 28th, 2023.