Pic : Dermnet


German measles (Rubella), scientifically known as rubella, may sound less ominous compared to its close cousin, measles, but it has left a significant mark in medical history. This seemingly mild viral infection has a rich history, a unique mode of transmission, and important implications for public health. In this article, we’ll explore the intriguing world of German measles, from its historical roots to its symptoms, treatment, prevention, and more.

This is how German Measles (Rubella) can be spotted.


Rubella’s history is not as ancient as some other infectious diseases, but it’s nonetheless fascinating. The virus was first described in the 18th century by German physicians, which is how it got its common name, German measles. However, its true significance was only recognized in the mid-20th century when researchers isolated the virus and connected it to a devastating congenital syndrome. Before the rubella vaccine was introduced, large-scale epidemics occurred roughly every 6-9 years.

Mode of Transmission

Rubella spreads through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It’s highly contagious, with a transmission rate of up to 90%. Unlike measles, rubella doesn’t linger in the air or on surfaces for long periods, which makes it less contagious outside of close contact situations. Pregnant women who contract rubella can pass the virus to their unborn children, resulting in congenital rubella syndrome (CRS), a condition with severe birth defects.

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Rubella typically manifests with mild symptoms, and sometimes it’s so mild that it goes unnoticed. Common symptoms include:

  1. A pink or red rash that starts on the face and spreads to the body.
  2. Low-grade fever.
  3. Mild cold-like symptoms such as a runny or stuffy nose.
  4. Swollen lymph nodes, especially in the neck and behind the ears.

It’s important to note that rubella symptoms can be more severe in adults and are usually milder in children.


There is no specific antiviral treatment for rubella, but the infection is typically self-limiting and doesn’t require medical intervention. Rest, hydration, and over-the-counter pain relievers can help manage symptoms. Infected individuals should isolate themselves to prevent the virus’s spread, especially to pregnant women.


Prevention is the key to controlling rubella and its potentially devastating consequences. Vaccination, specifically the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, has been highly effective in reducing rubella cases worldwide. The MMR vaccine is typically administered to children in two doses, the first at 12-15 months and the second at 4-6 years. Vaccination not only protects individuals but also contributes to herd immunity, reducing the risk of outbreaks.

Congenital rubella syndrome can be prevented by ensuring pregnant women are immune to rubella before conception. This highlights the importance of vaccination, as herd immunity protects those who cannot be vaccinated, including pregnant women.


While German measles might seem benign compared to its more infamous relative, measles, its history and impact on public health are substantial. Rubella’s association with congenital rubella syndrome underscores the importance of vaccination, not just for one’s own health but for the protection of vulnerable populations. Understanding the history, mode of transmission, symptoms, treatment, and prevention of rubella is crucial in our ongoing efforts to eliminate this disease and its potential devastating consequences.

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