Rubella, or German measles, is particularly risky for children between the ages of 5 and 9 and for pregnant women and their unborn children. Find out why the vaccination is important.
German measles is caused by the rubella virus, which spreads easily through coughing and sneezing, but the disease is generally mild. In fact, it is sometimes called the "three-day measles."
Symptoms include a red rash, headache, loss of appetite, mild conjunctivitis (inflammation of the lining of the eyelids), swollen lymph nodes (especially in front of the ear), joint pain and swelling, and a stuffy or runny nose, but many people who are infected experience no symptoms.
The rubella virus can pass through the bloodstream of a pregnant woman to her developing child. When this happens, particularly in early stages of pregnancy, the rubella virus can cause mental retardation, deafness, cataracts, and other congenital defects that are collectively known as congenital rubella syndrome (CRS).
An infant who has CRS can shed the virus in body fluids for a year or more and can pass the virus to people who have not been immunized. Thanks to immunization, German measles and CRS cases in the United States are rare.
Who's at Risk for Rubella
Children ages 5 to 9 who have not been immunized are at risk, as are developing babies of infected pregnant women. Nonimmunized young adults are also in danger of contracting German measles.
Defensive Measures Against Rubella
Rubella is preventable with vaccination. If you're planning a pregnancy, be sure your immunizations are current. If you already are or may be pregnant, you'll have to wait until after your child is delivered before receiving the vaccination. (You must protect yourself from pregnancy for at least four weeks after being immunized.) You also should avoid contact with anyone infected by the rubella virus, but because infected people don't always have symptoms, this can be difficult.
The rubella vaccine is usually given to babies at 12 to 15 months of age as part of the measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) immunization. A second dose is given at 4 to 6 years of age.
The flu vaccine is recommended for children under the age of 5, and especially for those age 3 months to 2 years. Learn more about the flu vaccine on the next page.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.