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Rubella: The Virus That Causes German Measles

A great number of infectious diseases have posed a threat to the human population in the past, but are mostly considered under control in modern times. The measles viral infection is a group of two different diseases that once caused the death of millions over the world. The two types of diseases in this group is called Red Measles and German Measles.

Rubella, which is the name given to the virus that causes the German Measles variety of these infectious diseases, is relatively common and also considered less of serious disease than the other type. Still, this disease can cause complications in some patients and can lead to dangerous implications, especially when not attended to in a timely manner.

Here, we will look at the symptoms, causes, complications and the diagnosis of the Rubella viral infection. We will also discuss different methods that can be used to reduce recovery time and ease the symptoms that a patient may experience.

What Is Rubella?

Rubella is a virus that causes infection in the human body. This disease is more commonly known as German Measles. It is sometimes also referred to as the three-day measles infection, due to the fact that the infection usually lasts for around three days after the symptoms have started to develop. Most cases of Rubella, or German Measles, are mild and the symptoms do not cause severe levels of discomfort to the patient. Rarely, the disease can produce more serious symptoms, and the patient may also develop complications. The complications associated with the Rubella infection is most concerning among pregnant women, as issues may arise with the unborn baby.

The prevalence of this disease has declined significantly. In 2015, the world celebrated as no cases of the virus were reported in the United States for that specific year. Prior to the development of the Rubella viral infection, the disease infected about 12.5 million patients each year. Approximately 2,100 newborn babies passed away as a complication of the mother being infected with the virus prior to giving birth. Around 11,000 pregnancies were also lost due to the disease. Additionally, there were approximately 20,000 cases of babies born with a complication of Rubella, known as congenital rubella syndrome. This data only accounts for the United States.

In 2018, the World Health Organization reported that the top 10 countries where Rubella seems to be reported include:

Travellers planning to visit any of these countries should ensure they are vaccinated before they leave their country. This will not only allow them to protect themselves against the viral infection but also help to reduce their risk of bringing the disease back home with them and spreading the disease.

What Causes Rubella?

Understanding what causes Rubella is an important part of determining how the virus can be avoided most effectively. Rubella is caused by a virus with the same name, the rubella virus. The virus is contracted through contact with a person who has been infected. In most cases, droplets of body fluids expelled while coughing and sneezing causes a person not infected with the virus to be exposed to it. It should be noted that the virus may also be exposed to an uninfected person when they come into contact with an object or surface that is contaminated with droplets of body fluid from an infected person.

In addition to these causes and methods of transmission, pregnant women need to be aware of the fact that they can spread the virus to their child. This is a troublesome problem as it causes up to 90% of babies to develop a condition known as congenital rubella syndrome, an infectious disease that can lead to birth defects and the death of the baby.

Patients infected with the rubella virus should also be aware that they can start spreading the disease even before they know they have it. The viral infection becomes contagious approximately one week prior to the development of the common rash associated with the disease. Even after the patient finds that the rash is gone, they will still be able to spread the disease to others for approximately two weeks.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Rubella?

Many people who become infected with the Rubella virus will not know that they have this disease. The symptoms are often very mild, but the disease remains contagious even when specific symptoms do not develop. Individuals who develop symptoms may experience these effects approximately two weeks after they have been exposed to the rubella virus. In many cases, the symptoms will start to get better within the first three days, but they can last for up to seven days.

Symptoms may include:

  • A rash that appears reddish. This is the most common symptom of German Measles. It most often stars to develop in the patient’s face. It can also spread towards other parts of the patient’s body.
  • A mild fever may also develop.
  • The lymph nodes of the patient may become tender and develop inflammation.
  • A stuffy or a runny nose.
  • Headaches and muscle pain.
  • The eyes may also become red and sometimes inflamed.

Does Rubella Cause Complications?

The most serious complication associated with rubella is congenital rubella syndrome, a condition that is passed down to an unborn baby by a mother infected with this viral infection. Up to 90% of babies born to a mother with German Measles may suffer from this condition. When the virus is carried down to an unborn baby, there is a chance that the baby may die prior to birth. Should the child be born, they still have a chance of dying after birth. Those who do survive congenital rubella syndrome may go on to suffer from certain defects. The most common type of defect observed among these children is deafness. Other defects may affect their brain, their heart, and their eyes.

How Is Rubella Diagnosed?

Rubella is diagnosed based on various findings that a physician needs to make while examining a patient. The first step is for the physician to perform a physical examination and to consider the clinical features of the disease that the payment may have. This would include looking for a rash, determining if the patient has a fever and identifying swollen lymph nodes.

The physician may also utilize amniotic fluid, placenta and a nasal swab to test for the presence of the rubella virus in the patient’s body.

Rubella also is known as German Measles is a virus that is different to the one causing "normal" measles. Rubella was once a common childhood disease. Although infectio is very low in Canada and the US, it is still possible for cases to occur throughout the world.

Can Rubella Be Treated?

There are no treatments used to cure rubella as most patients tend to recover within three to seven days after the symptoms develop. Antibiotics cannot be used to treat rubella as the disease is caused by a virus. Medications can be given to an infected patient to relieve fever and alleviate pain symptoms they may be experiencing. The patient will also be advised to drink a lot of fluids, including water, and to eat a healthy diet that can help their body fight off the virus that is causing the infection.

What Preventative Methods Can Be Used Against Rubella?

An effective vaccine has been developed to protect both children and adults against the Rubella virus and to reduce the Rubella epidemic around the entire world. In most developed countries, the vaccine that is used to immunize a patient’s immune system against the Rubella virus is provided to children at a young age. In most cases, the vaccine will be given together with other vaccines to help provide long-term protection against most of the common diseases found among children. The vaccine is often given along with either of the following vaccinations:

  • MR (Measles Vaccine)
  • MMR (Measles and Mumps Vaccine)
  • MMRV (Measles, Mumps and Varicella Vaccine)

The vaccine that is used against the Rubella virus contains a live attenuated virus strain of the virus that causes the infectious disease. One dose of the vaccine is effective to provide a 95% protection against the virus, should the immunized person be exposed to this virus.

Patients should be advised that some people may experience mild side-effects following the Rubella vaccine. The side-effects associated with the Rubella vaccine are mild. These side-effects may include redness that develops around the area where the vaccine was injected into the patient. Pain may also be present in the localized area. Additionally, the patient may also experience muscle soreness, develop a rash and have a low-grade fever for a few days after they received the vaccine.

Conclusion

The Rubella infection is commonly also called German measles. The disease is caused by a virus that enters and infects the patient’s body. In the majority of cases, the viral infection will not cause serious symptoms and complications, but patients are advised to note that some harmful adverse effects can occur. Treatment options usually include supportive care and medication that aims to reduce the severity of the symptoms that the virus causes. The best approach, however, is to ensure vaccination is provided to all individuals who may be at risk of developing the Rubella viral infection.