Vaccine preventable disease: Rubella

What it is: Also known as the German measles or the three-day measles, rubella is a mild viral infection that often goes unnoticed. Serious complications arise if a pregnant mother contracts the disease within the first weeks of her pregnancy, she could have a miscarriage or her child could be at risk for congenital rubella syndrome (CRS). Aside from this, most cases of rubella are relatively negligible.

How it spreads: The rubella virus commonly transmits between people through the air or by close contact. Those sick with the rubella virus can pass the infection one week before and one week after the rash appears.

What it causes: The telltale sign of rubella is a skin rash which spreads from the face to the trunk and limbs, then disappears after three days. Children generally show few to no symptoms, while adults can experience the following along with the rash:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • General discomfort
  • Runny nose
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Muscle/joint pain
  • Bruising (rare)

What to do: Vaccination with the MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccine is the best protection against rubella. Most women will have a test for immunity by their physician prior to pregnancy. The MMR vaccine is routinely given to all children at 12-15 months, with a second dose at ages four to six years.