What Is German Measles?
measles, also known as rubella, is a viral infection that causes a red rash on
the body. Aside from the rash, people with German measles usually have a fever
and swollen lymph nodes. The infection can spread from person to person through
contact with droplets from an infected person’s sneeze or cough. This means
that you can get German measles if you touch your mouth, nose, or eyes after
touching something that has droplets from an infected person on it. You may
also get German measles by sharing food or drinks with someone who’s infected.
German measles is rare in the United States. With the introduction
of the rubella vaccine in the late 1960s, the incidence of German measles
significantly declined. However, the condition is still common in many other
parts of the world. It mainly affects children, more commonly those between 5 and
9 years old, but it can also occur in adults.
measles is typically a mild infection that goes away within one week, even
without treatment. However, it can be a serious condition in pregnant women, as
it may cause congenital rubella syndrome in the fetus. Congenital rubella syndrome
can disrupt the development of the baby and cause serious birth defects, such
as heart abnormalities, deafness, and brain damage. It’s important to get
treatment right away if you’re pregnant and suspect you have German measles.
What Are the Symptoms of German Measles?
of German measles are often so mild that they're difficult to notice. When
symptoms do occur, they usually develop within two to three weeks after the
initial exposure to the virus. They often last about three to seven days and
or red rash that begins on the face and then spreads downward to the rest of
fever, usually under 102°F
and tender lymph nodes
or stuffy nose
or red eyes
these symptoms may not seem serious, you should contact your doctor if you
suspect you have German measles. This is especially important if you’re
pregnant or believe you may be pregnant.
cases, German measles can lead to ear infections and brain swelling. Call your
doctor immediately if you notice any of the following symptoms during or after
a German measles infection:
What Causes German Measles?
is caused by the rubella virus. This is a highly contagious virus that can
spread through close contact or through the air. It may pass from person to person
through contact with tiny drops of fluid from the nose and throat when sneezing
and coughing. This means that you can get the virus by inhaling the droplets of
an infected person or touching an object contaminated with the droplets. German
measles can also be transmitted from a pregnant woman to her developing baby
through the bloodstream.
have German measles are most contagious from the week before the rash appears until
about two weeks after the rash goes away. They can spread the virus before they
even know that they have it.
Who Is at Risk for German Measles?
measles is extremely rare in the United States, thanks to vaccines that
typically provide lifelong immunity to the rubella virus. Most cases of German
measles occur in people who live in countries that don't offer routine immunization
vaccine is usually given to children when they’re between 12 and 15 months old,
and then again when they’re between ages 4 and 6. This means that infants and
young toddlers who haven’t yet received all vaccines have a greater risk of
getting German measles.
complications during pregnancy, many women who become pregnant are given a
blood test to confirm immunity to rubella. It’s important to contact your
doctor immediately if you've never received the vaccine and think you might
have been exposed to rubella.
How Does German Measles Affect Pregnant Women?
When a woman
contracts German measles during pregnancy, the virus can be passed on to her developing
baby through her bloodstream. This is called congenital rubella syndrome. Congenital
rubella syndrome is a serious health concern, as it can cause miscarriages and
stillbirths. It can also cause birth defects in babies who are carried to term,
childbearing age should have their immunity to rubella tested before becoming
pregnant. If a vaccine is needed, it’s important to get it at least 28 days
before trying to conceive.
How Is German Measles Diagnosed?
measles appears similar to other viruses that cause rashes, your doctor will confirm
your diagnosis with a blood test. This can check for the presence of different
types of rubella antibodies in your blood. Antibodies are proteins that
recognize and destroy harmful substances, such as viruses and bacteria. The
test results can indicate whether you currently have the virus or are immune to
How Is German Measles Treated?
of German measles are treated at home. Your doctor may tell you to rest in bed
and to take acetaminophen (Tylenol), which can help
relieve discomfort from fever and aches. They may also recommend that you stay
home from work or school to prevent spreading the virus to others.
may be treated with antibodies called hyperimmune globulin that can fight off
the virus. This can help reduce your symptoms. However, there’s still a chance
that your baby will develop congenital rubella syndrome. Babies who are born
with congenital rubella will require treatment from a team of specialists. Talk
to your doctor if you’re concerned about passing German measles on to your
How Can I Prevent German Measles?
For most people,
vaccination is a safe and effective way to prevent German measles. The rubella
vaccine is typically combined with vaccines for the measles and mumps as well as varicella, the virus that causes chicken pox.
vaccines are usually given to children who are between 12 and 15 months old. A
booster shot will be needed again when children are between ages 4 and 6. Since
the vaccines contain small doses of the virus, mild fevers and rashes may occur.
If you don’t
know whether you’ve been vaccinated for German measles, it’s important to have
your immunity tested, especially if you:
a woman of childbearing age and aren’t pregnant
an educational facility
in a medical facility or school
to travel to a country that doesn’t offer immunization against rubella
While the rubella
vaccine usually isn’t harmful, the virus in the shot could cause adverse
reactions in some people. You shouldn’t be vaccinated if you have a weak immune
system due to another illness, are pregnant, or plan to become pregnant within
the next month.