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Rubella (German measles)
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Rubella

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INFECTIOUS DISEASE

Viral Illnesses

Sometimes rubella is known as German measles, but the word German in the name of this disease has nothing to do with the country. The name likely comes from the Latin term germanus meaning "similar." And indeed, rubella and measles (rubeola) share some characteristics, but they're caused by different viruses.

Rubella and measles are both contagious viral infections best known by the distinctive red rash that may appear on the skin of those who contract either illness. However, rubella isn't as infectious as measles and is usually not as severe, which is why it's also called three-day measles. There is one important exception, though: If a pregnant woman contracts rubella, especially during her first trimester, the virus can cause miscarriage, stillbirth or serious birth defects in the developing fetus - a condition known as congenital rubella syndrome. These defects can include deafness, growth retardation and heart problems.

Treatment

No treatment will shorten the course of rubella infection, and symptoms are so mild that treatment usually isn't necessary. However, doctors often recommend isolation from others — especially pregnant women — during the infectious period.

If you contract rubella while you're pregnant, discuss the risks to your baby with your doctor. If you wish to continue your pregnancy, you may be given antibodies called hyperimmune globulin that can fight off the infection. This can reduce your symptoms but doesn't eliminate the possibility of your baby developing congenital rubella syndrome.

Treatment for congenital rubella syndrome varies depending on the extent of the infant's problems. Children with multiple complications may require early treatment from a team of specialists.

Rubella > 1 > 2 > 3 > 4

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Last Modified : 03/15/08 02:08 AM