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German Measles (or Rubella) is a mild viral illness caused by the rubella virus. It causes a mild feverish illness associated with a rash, and concomitant aches in the joints when it affects adults. The rubella virus can cause birth defects if a mother gets the illness in the first few weeks of a pregnancy.
Children are not usually affected too badly, and often the first manifestation is the rash. This is a fine pink rash spreading from the forehead across the face downwards. This rash may last for 1 to 5 days. Often some of the glands at the back of the ears and the back of the head become swollen. Adults often feel unwell before the rash appears and may have pains in the joints rather like arthritis. The incubation period, from exposure to the appearance of the rash, is usually 14 to 21 days.
If a pregnant woman thinks she has been exposed to rubella, she should first of all check with her midwife or her doctor on her rubella status i.e. whether the blood test, taken in early pregnancy shows her to be immune. In that case, she should not worry. You cannot catch rubella if you are immune and if you do not catch it your foetus cannot be affected.
There is very little treatment for rubella, however paracetamol should be taken for pain and fever if necessary.
A vaccine is available for rubella and is given to children between 12 to 15 months old, along with the vaccines for measles and mumps. A booster is given before the child starts school.