Rubella is a contagious disease which mainly affects children. The vaccine for it, which is now mandatory, allows rubella to be prevented in the majority of cases. Congenital rubella (transmitted to the fetus from a pregnant women during the pregnancy) can have serious consequences.
What is rubella?
Rubella is a contagious viral disease which is airborne. It can be identified through characteristic red patches which first of all appear on the face and then on other parts of the body.Rubella most commonly affects children between the ages of 5 and 9 years old. It is generally benign but in the case of congenital rubella (passed onto the baby by a pregnant woman) it can have severe consequences.The measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) has considerably lowered the number of people in France with the disease. On the other hand, 100,000 babies are affected every year in developing countries.
Symptoms of rubella
The first symptoms of rubella appear around 2 weeks after contamination. They are often quite mild and similar to measles. Nearly 50% of people who are infected by the virus show no signs of illness. The characteristic clinical signs of catching rubella include, a mild fever, swollen glands, joint pain as well as skin rashes which initially appear on the face before spreading to the rest of the body.
Congenital rubella can lead to numerous complications. When babies are infected early on during the pregnancy (within the first three months), a malformation syndrome can develop. It can cause developmental problems, lesions on the brain and heart or ocular malfunctions.
Prevention: A vaccine against rubella
The rubella virus is an airborne virus, passed on through breathing in droplets when an infected person sneezes, coughs or talks. It is therefore important to take certain precautions with regards to hygiene (washing your hands regularly and cleaning every object which could potentially be contaminated) and quarantine (ineffective unless contagious people have been diagnosed).
However, these measures are insufficient. Widespread and free of charge, the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps and rubella) is recommended and nowadays being administered to children almost without thinking twice about it. It is made up of two injections, usually for children aged one to twelve months and another between 16 and 18 months old. Eventually, the vaccination is expected to virtually eliminate rubella.
Treatment: how to treat rubella?
No remedial treatments currently exist for rubella. In fact, no medicine has been made to treat the virus. Dealing with rubella is solely based on reducing the symptoms. To do this, painkillers can be prescribed to treat fevers and antibiotics in cases of secondary bacterial infection.