German measles

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German measles is a viral infection that affects the skin and lymph nodes. It is also known as Rubella or 3-day measles. It is a mild disease in children but deadly for pregnant women because it may affect their unborn babies.



German measles is caused by the pseudoparamyxovirus (also known as the Rubella/Toga virus). Rubella epidemics routinely occur every six to nine years, often in children aged five [Fondue Forks

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Rubella in Latin means “little red.” German doctors were the first to describe the disease in the 18th century, hence the name German measles.


Rubella can be prevented through vaccination with MMR (measles mumps rubella) vaccine. This is given to children aged 1 year to 15 months. A second dose is given at age 4-6 years old.


3-day measles can infect people through direct contact of nasal and oral secretions. Affected persons are most contagious 1 week before and 1 week after the rash appears.

A person exposed to the virus will develop signs and symptoms after 2 to 3 weeks. The rashes may last for 3 days but the swollen lymph nodes and joint pains might remain for 2 weeks.

Signs and symptoms

German measles start with a day or two of low-grade [fever] (37.2 to 37.8° C). Swollen, tender lymph nodes are also present at the nape or behind the ears. Fine red spots, known as “Forcheimer's spots,” on the soft palate or uvula appear on the first day.

Eventually, rashes similar to measles appear on the face. It appears as pink or slightly reddish spots that may merge to form evenly colored patches. This rash may itch for three days. As it spreads downwards, the facial rash disappears but remains present on the body. When the rashes clear, skin may fall off in flakes. The presence of rash is what worries most parents.

In teen and adults, the most common symptoms include headaches, appetite loss, mild [conjunctivitis], stuffy or runny nose, swollen lymph nodes in other parts of the body and swollen joint pains. However, some people might not manifest any symptoms at all.


Blood tests are used to confirm rubella infection. A blood sample will be tested for antibodies. An IgM (immunoglobulin M) antibody will be present if positive for current infection. If an IgG (immunoglobulin G) antibody is present, that means there is past rubella exposure or the patient has received the [MMRV vaccine]. Absence of both mean that one has not been immunized against the virus.


As with other viral infections, German measles cannot be treated with [antibiotic|antibiotics]. It usually clears itself on its own. Children with this disease can be cared of at home. Adults can benefit from bed rest for a few more days. [Paracetamol] or [ibuprofen] can be given to reduce fever and to ease the joint pains.


A pregnant woman who contracts rubella will develop congenital rubella syndrome. The unborn child will develop [hearing loss|deafness], [cataract| cataracts], heart,liver, or spleen deformities, and mental retardation especially when the mother is infected in the first trimester. The virus travels through the mother's blood and into the placenta.

The risk of developing complications from this viral infection increases when the immune system is not working properly. Common complications include stomach upset (diarrhea and vomiting), inner ear infection, and convulsions.

Local setting

There is research from the Institute of Public Health of the University of the Philippines that Filipino women are susceptible to rubella. They specified that women of child bearing age (11 to 30 years old) must be immunized against the virus in order to prevent development of congenital rubella syndrome in unborn babies.

This study also coincides with the concern of the Department of Health (DOH). Ssince 2009, there have been 600 reported cases of German measles in the country.


DEFAULTSORT: German measles [Category: Diseases and illnesses] [Category: Children's health]