Rubella Virus Infection: Symptoms & Prevention

Rubella virus infection
Rubella virus infection

The rubella virus infection is what causes the German measles, sometimes referred to as three-day measles. This illness is frequently mild and half of those who have it are unaware of symptoms. Two to three weeks after exposure, a rash may appear and remain for three days. It typically begins on the face before moving to the rest of the body. The rash is not as vivid as that from measles and can occasionally be irritating. Lymph node swelling is typical and can linger for a few weeks. Other symptoms include weariness, a sore throat, and a fever. Adults often have joint pain. Complications could include issues with blood clotting, testicular enlargement, encephalitis, and nerve irritation. Early-stage infections during pregnancy might cause miscarriage or give birth to a premature kid.

How do people get rubella virus infection?

Rubella is typically transmitted through the air by the coughs of those who are afflicted.  The week before and the week after the rash appears, people are contagious. Infants with CRS may continue to spread the disease for over a year. Infection only affects humans. The disease is not spread by insects.  Once healthy, patients are resistant to subsequent infections. Immunity can be verified through testing. The presence of the virus in the blood, pharynx, or urine serves to confirm the diagnosis.  Blood tests for antibodies may also be beneficial. 

What are the signs of rubella infection?

The signs of rubella are comparable to those of the flu. However, the exanthem (rash), which first appears on the face and then spreads to the trunk and limbs and often goes away after three days, is the main sign of rubella virus infection. For this reason, it is frequently referred to as three-day measles. As the rash moves to other parts of the body, it typically disappears on the face. Low-grade fever, enlarged glands (sub-occipital and posterior cervical lymphadenopathy), joint pain, headache, and conjunctivitis are some other symptoms. The temperature hardly ever climbs over 38 °C (100.4 °F), and the enlarged glands or lymph nodes can last for up to a week. Rubella usually causes a pink or light red rash. The rash itches and typically lasts for three days. After a few days, the rash goes away without leaving any stains or skin flaking. The skin that was covered by the rash may flake off in tiny pieces when it heals. 20% of cases have Forchheimer spots, which are characterized by tiny, red papules on the soft palate.

Rubella often causes two days of symptoms in youngsters, including:

  • Rash starts on the face and then moves down the body.
  • less than 38.3 °C (100.9 °F) low fever
  • cervical lymphadenopathy in the back.

Adults and older children may also exhibit additional symptoms, such as 

  • enlarged glands
  • Coryza (cold-like symptoms) (cold-like symptoms)
  • painful joints (especially in young females)

Significant effects of rubella include:

  • Encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain
  • Insufficient platelets
  • Otitis media

When a person has rubella, coryza may progress to bronchitis, pneumonia (either primary viral pneumonia or secondary bacterial pneumonia), or both (either viral bronchitis or secondary bacterial bronchitis).

How does the virus inflict our body? 

The rubella virus, which belongs to the family Matonaviridae and is encapsulated and has a single-stranded RNA genome, is what causes the disease.The nasopharynx and lymph nodes are where the virus replicates after being transferred through the respiratory system. Five to seven days after infection, the virus is discovered in the blood and spreads throughout the body. The virus can cross the placenta and infect the fetus, where it inhibits or destroys cells due to its teratogenic characteristics. The patient is normally contagious throughout this incubation stage for about a week before developing a rash and for another week afterward. As there is some evidence that HLA-A1 or components around A1 on extended haplotypes are involved in virus infection or the disease’s failure to resolve, increased vulnerability to infection may be inherited.

Rubella virus infection
Rubella virus infection


People who have recently been exposed to the rubella virus have IgM antibodies specific to the virus, but because these antibodies can last for over a year, a positive test result needs to be treated with caution. The diagnosis is established by the presence of these antibodies together with, or shortly after, the recognisable rash.

Can we prevent rubella infection?

Active immunization programmes employing live attenuated virus vaccines help to reduce rubella infections. The RA 27/3 and Cendehill strains of live attenuated viruses were successful in preventing adult illness. However, the incidence rate of CRS in the UK as a whole did not significantly decline as a result of their use in prepubertal females. Only through universal childhood immunization were reductions made. The shot is now typically administered along with the MMR shot. The WHO advises giving the first dose between the ages of 12 and 18 months, followed by a second dose at 36 months. Early on during pregnancy, women are typically screened for immunity to rubella. Because the vaccine contains live virus, women who have been identified as being vulnerable are not inoculated until after the baby is born. The immunization campaign has had good results. The congenital and acquired types of rubella were declared eradicated from the United States by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2004. Rubella was declared eradicated in Cuba in the 1990s. Australia was deemed free of rubella by the World Health Organization in October 2018. 


Although there is no specific cure for rubella, symptoms can be managed by taking action to lessen pain. The control of the problems is the main emphasis of newborn baby treatment. Direct surgery can be used to treat cataracts and congenital heart abnormalities.Similar to age-related macular degeneration, ocular congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) is treated with counseling, routine monitoring, and, if necessary, the supply of low vision aids.


Both children and adults who contract rubella often experience minor, self-limiting symptoms. Children born with CRS have a terrible prognosis.

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