Measles Rubella

What causes rubella?

Rubella (measles) is caused by the rubella virus.

How does rubella spread?

Rubella and measles are transmitted from an infected person to another by air, by sneezing, coughing or speaking. Measles usually occurs in winter or spring. It is contagious, but less than rubella or chickenpox.

How long from the contamination do symptoms of rubella or measles appear?

The incubation period varies from 12 to 23 days. Symptoms are often mild and may go unnoticed in 30-50% of cases.

What are the symptoms of rubella?

Children with rubella and measles usually have a rash that starts on the face and then descends down the body, and that lasts 2-3 days. Older children and adults usually suffer from mild fever for 24 hours, swelling of glands in the neck or behind the ears, upper respiratory infection before they develop a rash. Adult women often develop pain and stiffness of fingers, hands and joints of the knee, which could last up to one month. Almost half of people infected with rubella virus have no symptoms.

How long does rubella last?

Unlike measles rubella’s skin rash usually lasts 3 days. Nodes can remain swollen for a week or more, and pain in the joints can last 2 weeks. Children suffering from rubella heal in about a week, but adults may take longer.

How serious is rubella?

Unlike measles rubella is usually a mild disease in children, but adults have more complications. The most serious is the effect the disease can have on pregnant women. Infection with rubella during the first trimester of pregnancy can cause fetal loss, preterm birth and serious birth defects.

What are the possible complications from rubella?

Encephalitis (brain infection) occurs at 1 in 5,000 cases, usually in adults. Temporary blood problems such as low platelet levels and hemorrhage, also occur rarely. Women with rubella often experience pain or swelling of the joints which are usually temporary.

The most serious complication of rubella infection is the congenital rubella syndrome, which occurs when the rubella virus attacks a developing fetus. Up to 85% of infants infected during the first trimester of pregnancy will present a congenital abnormality such as deafness, eye defects, heart, mental retardation and others. Infection early in pregnancy (less than 12 months of gestation) is the most dangerous; defects are rare when infection occurs after 20 weeks gestation.

Is there a treatment for measles, rubella?

Measles, rubella don’t have a ‘cure’, but it is recommended for the patient to rest in bed, take a lot of fluids and reduce fever. To ease the child’s discomfort you can give him ibuprofen, avoid giving him aspirin for a viral infection.

For immunization against measles and rubella a vaccine may be administered, but usually vaccines against measles and mumps and a trivalent vaccine called MMR are mandatory in the first last year. Immunization protects the children, but also protects the others in his entourage. Children can not become infected with measles or rubella and can not pass the disease to other people or other pregnant women. The first dose of this vaccine is given to children between the age of 12-15 months and the second dose is usually between 4-6 years, but not less than 11 or 12 years. Of course there are many exceptions and special circumstances.

How do I know if my child has measles or rubella?

From the skin rash that appears, if rubella rash looks similar to other common rashes, the only way you can be sure of the diagnosis is by laboratory tests. Skin lesions appear as pink spots or bright red, like grains of rice, no pus, rough to the touch, which do not join.

How long is a person with measles or rubella contagious?

The diseases are most contagious when is hard on skin rash, but the virus can be transmitted to 7 days before and 5-7 days after the eruption began.

I think my child has been exposed to the rubella virus, what should I do?

If your child has been vaccinated against rubella after exposure to the virus will help prevent the evolution of the disease if the child is already infected. However, if the child was not infected by this exposure, the vaccine will help to protect him against future exposures to the rubella virus.

You can suffer from rubella more than once?

Secondary cases of rubella are considered quite rare.