German measles (rubella) is a contagious disease and is caused by a virus, which occurs mainly in children, but can also occur in adults.
The virus is spread through droplets in the air through sneezing or coughing. The incubation period is 2 to 3 weeks. This means that someone who comes into contact with an infected person can get rubella 3 weeks afterwards. Someone is already infectious 5 to 7 days before the skin rash occurs and stays that 5 to 7 days afterwards.
Symptoms and diagnosis
The disease is mild in most children. Sometimes a pale red skin rash and mild fever occurs. The rash lasts about 3 days and usually starts in the face and spreads over the trunk and limbs. The lymph nodes behind the ears are often set up and sometimes the joints are painful. The throat can turn red, but it is not painful. The child does feel ill. The diagnosis is made on the basis of this clinical picture, in case of doubt a blood test is done to check for antibodies.
Contamination during pregnancy
In itself Rubella is not a serious disease. It can be very dangerous for the unborn babies of pregnant women who have not yet had it, and become infected during pregnancy. The risk of miscarriage or congenital abnormality is greatest in the first 3 months of pregnancy. Rubella can cause abnormalities in the brain, eyes, middle ear and heart of the baby.
The treatment consists of a number of days of rest, a lot of fluids and, if necessary, paracetamol. Usually the symptoms disappear again after a few days and the patient feels better. Children or adults with Rubella should be kept away from pregnant women as a precaution.
Nowadays all children at the age of 14 months are vaccinated with the MMR vaccine (mumps, measles and rubella), and when the child is 9 years old the vaccination is repeated.
If you have not been vaccinated against Rubella, it is still possible to have this done (ask your doctor). This is important to prevent you from becoming infected and to pass on the infection to the unborn baby. If you are not sure whether you have already been vaccinated, ask your doctor. This may have data about this. In case of doubt, the doctor can have a blood test done to give a definitive answer.
When you are vaccinated, you may not become pregnant for the first 3 months after the vaccination. If you are already pregnant, you may only be vaccinated with the rubella vaccine again after the pregnancy.