Rubella, also called German Measles, is a contagious disease caused by a virus.
The first sign of rubella is usually a red rash appearing on the face and then spreading to the rest of the body. Other symptoms that may occur 1 to 5 days before the rash appears include low-grade fever, headaches, mild pink eye, discomfort, swollen and enlarged lymph nodes, cough, and runny nose.
Up to half of the people infected with rubella will not show any symptoms. Rubella spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Also, if a woman is infected with rubella while she is pregnant, she can pass the virus to her developing baby.
Since 2004, rubella is no longer constantly present in the United States. However, vaccination against rubella is still recommended since it remains a problem in other parts of the world and cases in the U.S. still occur in people who have lived or traveled outside of the United States.
Congenital Rubella Syndrome and other pregnancy risks with rubella:
Rubella is very dangerous for a pregnant woman and her developing baby. Mothers who are not vaccinated against rubella are at risk of getting the disease. Pregnant women who get rubella, especially in the first 12 weeks, are at risk of miscarriage or stillbirth, and their developing babies are at risk of serious birth defects.
The most common birth defects from congenital rubella syndrome are deafness, cataracts, heart defects, intellectual disabilities, liver and spleen damage, low birth weight, and skin rash at birth. Less common complications include glaucoma, brain damage, thyroid and other hormone problems, and inflammation of the lungs.
While it is important to get vaccinated against rubella before pregnancy, the Health Department recommends that mothers do not receive the rubella vaccine during pregnancy or four weeks before getting pregnant.
For more information: