Why Do They Call It German Measles?

Medically Reviewed on 1/26/2023
German Measles
Rubella can be avoided effectively by getting measles-mumps-rubella immunization.

The name rubella comes from Latin and means "little red." Rubella was initially thought to be a variant of scarlet fever, but in the early 19th century, it was distinguished from a more serious infectious disease, measles or rubeola.

It wasn't until 1814 that rubella was first characterized as an independent disease in German medical literature, after which the disease was thoroughly studied by German physicians, giving rise to the common name "German measles."

What is German measles (rubella)?

Rubella is a contagious virus-borne disease. Most rubella cases present with mild symptoms such as sore throat, low-grade fever, and rashes on the face that eventually spread all over the body.

If a pregnant woman becomes infected, rubella can cause serious congenital defects in a developing baby or a miscarriage.

Measles-mumps-rubella or MMR vaccine provides the best protection against rubella.

What is congenital rubella syndrome?

The rubella virus can infect a pregnant woman's unborn child. Congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) or birth abnormalities can result from this, especially if the mother contracts the disease during the first three months of her pregnancy (first trimester).

Nine of every ten fetuses exposed to rubella within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy will have a significant congenital defect.

The following birth problems are linked to CRS:

  • Deafness
  • Blindness
  • Heart defects
  • Intellectual disability
  • Impaired growth
  • Inflammation of many organs, including the brain, liver, and lungs

Consult your physician if you are expecting a child and believe you may have been exposed to rubella.

What are the signs and symptoms of rubella?

A rash that usually begins on your face and spreads down the rest of your body is the most noticeable sign of rubella.

The initial symptom in young children is frequently a rash. The rash may show up a few days after other symptoms do in older children and adults.

Even if a person has no symptoms, up to 50 percent of them can still transmit the rubella virus to others.

The following are the signs and symptoms of rubella:

What are the diagnostic tests for rubella?

Due to the nonspecific and ambiguous signs and symptoms of rubella, a diagnosis might be challenging. For instance, numerous disorders besides rubella induce fever, and the rash resembles other rashes.

There are several ways to identify rubella, including:

  • Medical history, including immunization status and travel history
  • Physical examination
  • Blood tests

What are the treatment options for rubella?

The symptoms of rubella are typically mild, and there is no known medical cure. Because the infection is viral, antibiotics are ineffective. Treatment aims to relieve symptoms to decrease the risk of issues.

Treatment options include:

To lessen the spread of the rash, it's crucial to stay home alone for at least four days after it appears.

Discuss your treatment options with your doctor if you catch rubella while pregnant.


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What are the complications of rubella?

Rubella is a minor infection and can cause arthritis in the fingers, wrists, and knees in certain women, which typically lasts about a month. Rarely, rubella may result in an ear infection or brain inflammation.

However, contracting rubella during pregnancy could have a serious and occasionally deadly impact on your unborn child.

Congenital rubella syndrome affects up to 90 percent of children born to moms who contracted rubella during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

This syndrome may result in one or more issues, such as:

  • Growth delays
  • Cataracts
  • Deafness
  • Congenital heart defects (problems with the development of the heart)
  • Problems with the development of other organs
  • Problems with mental development and learning

The first trimester of pregnancy is when the fetus is most at risk, but exposure later in pregnancy is also harmful.

How to avoid getting rubella

Rubella can be avoided most effectively by measles-mumps-rubella immunization. It has a 97 percent success rate in stopping rubella infection. In other words, three or fewer of every 100 properly immunized individuals will contract rubella. You can immunize against rubella as an adult or child.

If you want to get pregnant, you should get vaccinated against rubella or have a test for rubella antibodies at least one month beforehand.

Additional means of preventing rubella include the following:

  • Frequently wash your hands, especially if you're unwell.
  • Don't let anyone else use your personal items, such as cups or cutlery.
  • When you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose.
  • If you're traveling, find out if the destination has a higher incidence of rubella or other infectious diseases.

Which rubella vaccinations are available?

The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) or measles-mumps-rubella-varicella (MMRV) vaccines are the two options for rubella vaccination.

  1. MMR vaccine: Offers protection. Anyone who is at least 12 months old can receive the MMR shot.
  2. MMRV vaccination: Measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox are all diseases that are prevented by the MMRV vaccine. Only children in the age group of 12 to 24 months are eligible for MMRV immunization.
Medically Reviewed on 1/26/2023
Image Source: iStock image

Rubella https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/rubella/symptoms-causes/syc-20377310

Rubella (German Measles) https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17798-rubella

Rubella https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-is-rubella

Rubella (German measles) https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/rubella-german-measles

Rubella (German Measles) https://www.hhs.gov/immunization/diseases/rubella/index.html