Definition

Rubella is a contagious viral illness. Once you have had rubella, you will not get sick with it again.

Rubella Rash

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Babies whose mothers have rubella during pregnancy , especially during the first trimester, can be born with severe birth defects including:

  • Mental retardation and/or behavior problems
  • Hearing problems
  • Vision abnormalities, blindness, and/or cataracts
  • Heart defects
  • Increased risk of diabetes throughout early life
  • Death in utero

Causes

Rubella is caused by a virus. It is passed from person to person through tiny droplets in the air.

Risk Factors

You're more likely to get rubella if:

  • You have never had the condition.
  • You have never been immunized against it.

Symptoms

Symptoms are usually mild and include:

  • Fatigue, low energy
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Flushed face
  • Red throat (although not sore)
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Achy joints and arthritis (especially in adults)
  • Red, spotty rash all over the body

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Rubella is diagnosed by blood tests.

Treatment

There is no treatment for rubella. To help make you more comfortable, your doctor may give you acetaminophen (Tylenol).

Prevention

The rubella vaccine is often given as a combination vaccine:

The regular schedule for giving the vaccine is at age 12-15 months and again at age 4-6 years. If you or your child has never been vaccinated against the rubella, talk to the doctor.

Women who are not sure if they have been vaccinated should be tested. This is very important if they are in occupations with high risk of exposure to rubella, such as:

  • Healthcare workers
  • Teachers
  • Childcare workers