Prior to 1969, German Measles, also known as Rubella, was a common, contagious disease which quickly spread amongst pre-school and elementary school children. However, since a vaccine was released in 1969, the condition has become pretty rare in the US.
Most commonly, it affects young adults and children who have not received the German Measles vaccine. Those in confined spaces such as schools and military bases, tend to be at an increased risk of developing the condition.
So, what exactly is German Measles and what symptoms should you look out for? Find out everything you need to know below.
What Is German Measles?
German Measles is a contagious, viral infection, caused by the Rubella virus. It takes approximately 14-21 days for symptoms to begin once it’s been passed on. It’s typically a very mild infection, which means it’s very rarely serious and it tends to pass within a week, even without any form of treatment. However, the only exception to this is if a pregnant woman develops the condition; especially during the first trimester, as it’s known to cause severe birth defects.
As it’s contagious, the disease can pass quickly from person to person, through tiny droplets released via coughing or sneezing. It mainly affects the lymph nodes and skin.
What Are The Symptoms?
It’s possible you could develop German Measles and not even realize it. That’s because the symptoms can be extremely mild and barely noticeable. However, common symptoms you can look out for include:
- A red or pink rash
- Tender and/or swollen lymph nodes
- Muscle pain
- Mild fever
- Stuffy or runny nose
The rash is the most common symptom you’ll experience. It tends to start on the face and then spread down the rest of the body. Some find the rash a little itchy, and it’s generally not as brightly colored as the standard Measles virus. It will typically last around 3-5 days before fading.
Some of the symptoms are more common in adults, rather than children, such as muscle pain, a stuffy or runny nose and tender or swollen lymph nodes.
It’s also worth noting that although extremely rare, German Measles can lead to brain swelling. So, if you experience a stiff neck, a prolonged headache or earache, you should seek advice from a doctor as soon as possible. These symptoms are extremely rare however, but it’s still worth being aware of them so you can seek immediate treatment if needed.
Who Is Most At Risk?
Children and young adults who haven’t been vaccinated against Rubella are most at risk. In most cases the disease isn’t serious, however if you’re pregnant and you pick up the disease, it can cause significant risk to your unborn baby.
This is because the Rubella virus affects baby’s undeveloped organs which can lead to congenital rubella syndrome. Just some of the problems this can cause include deafness, cataracts and lung, brain and heart abnormalities.
There’s also an increased risk of miscarriage if you develop the virus within the first 3 months of pregnancy. However, if you’re more than 20 weeks pregnant, the chances of your baby developing congenital rubella syndrome is extremely small.
Your pediatrician will typically check to see if you’re protected against conditions such as Rubella, when they take blood tests early on in the pregnancy. Those who have been previously vaccinated should be immune. However, if you’re worried you have come in contact with the virus, you can ask your doctor or pediatrician to conduct tests just to be sure.
How Can It Be Treated?
As German Measles usually prevents very mild symptoms and clears up on its own within a week, treatment is not usually required. The immune system will automatically produce antibodies which fight off the infection by itself. What’s even more impressive, is these antibodies usually last for life. So, once you’ve experienced German Measles, you’re unlikely to ever get them again.
There are a few measures your doctor may suggest you or your child take to treat some of the symptoms. For fever, aches and pains, you may be instructed to take paracetamol. However, you should never give your child paracetamol unless the doctor or pediatrician has advised you to do so. Usually, fever in children can be cleared up naturally by ensuring they drink plenty of water.
If symptoms do not appear to be clearing up by themselves, you’ll need to go to the doctor to get properly checked over.
How Can It Be Prevented?
The Rubella vaccination is the only way to prevent the virus. Children are typically given two vaccinations to ensure they’re fully protected, including one when they are 12-15 months old, and another when they’re aged 4-5.
Obviously, vaccinations aren’t for everyone and as German Measles isn’t usually serious, it’s purely down to an individual’s preference whether or not to give their child the vaccine. It’s therefore a good idea to weigh up the pros and cons and do as much research as you can to ensure you’re making the best decision for you and your child.
Overall, German Measles isn’t usually serious, and it does tend to clear up by itself. If you suspect your child does have the virus, it’s best to get them checked over by the doctor just to be sure it is German Measles and no other potentially more dangerous disease.
This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Always consult with a doctor or licensed medical professional before making any medical decisions.