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Rubella in Babies – These Symptoms Should Concern – Zdrowie Wprost

Rubella in Babies - These Symptoms Should Concern - Zdrowie Wprost

Rubella is a contagious viral disease that can lead to serious complications. Approximately 25-50% of all cases of rubella are asymptomatic, which increases the risk of spreading the disease. In the past, rubella was a serious problem, but compulsory vaccinations significantly reduced the risk of contracting the disease. Unfortunately, a systematic increase in the number of unvaccinated children has been observed for several years, which means that diseases that are controlled thanks to vaccines are being diagnosed more and more often.

Preschool and early school age children are most likely to get rubella. The greatest risk of complications is among adolescents and adults. The rubella virus is especially dangerous for pregnant women because it infects not only the mother, but also the fetus. In 90% of cases of rubella infection in early pregnancy, a miscarriage or health complications occur in the baby. The placenta does not form a barrier to the rubella virus – an infection that causes the baby to develop congenital rubella syndrome. If the fetus is infected with the rubella virus in the early stages of pregnancy, the child may develop, among other things, hearing and vision defects and other serious developmental defects.

Rubella virus – what do you want to know about it?

German measles is a disease that only affects humans. The rubella virus has been under control for a long time thanks to preventive vaccinations. Before the era of vaccination, it caused local epidemics every few years. Currently, the disease is diagnosed every year in several thousand people – this group includes mostly non-immunized people. Storage of rubella is associated with the acquisition of a permanent immunity of the body to re-infection. Unfortunately, vaccines used several years ago do not protect against lifelong infection. It is worth knowing this when planning pregnancy, as it will allow you to take the necessary antibody tests and decide on vaccination before pregnancy. Having rubella during pregnancy is dangerous for both the mother and her baby.

Rubella infection most often occurs at the end of the year – most infections are diagnosed in late winter and early spring. Rubella virus is caused by the RNA of a virus called rubella virus, which belongs to the togaviridae family. As a result of infection with the rubella virus, the lymph nodes swell, as symptoms in the upper respiratory tract, as well as a characteristic rash (rubella purpura).

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Typical for rubella is a relatively mild course of infection in young children, however, in older children, adolescents and adults, there is an increased risk of developing disturbances in the functioning of the body. Due to the high risk of complications, prevention is essential in response to the rubella epidemic.

How does rubella infection occur?

Rubella is a disease that affects 10-30% of unvaccinated people after contact with a sick person. Although it is not characterized by a very high degree of contagiousness, this disease cannot be underestimated. Infection occurs through droplets – the viral reservoir is primarily the secretion from the nose and throat of an infected person, but the infectious substance is also the patient’s blood, urine, and faeces. Nowadays, rubella is more common in adolescent boys and adult men, because for many years preventive vaccinations were carried out only in girls. The disease is also diagnosed in unvaccinated women. Rubella takes 14-21 days to hatch, but the first symptoms of the disease usually appear 16-18 days after contact with the patient. The first symptoms of rubella are often confused with symptoms of other viral diseases such as the common cold.

Important! An infected person is infected for 7 days before the rash appears and for up to 14 days after it clears.

German measles in children – symptoms

As mentioned earlier, rubella can be asymptomatic or mild. Symptoms that appear after infection with rubella virus are initially non-specific, which makes diagnosis difficult.

At the beginning of the disease, only the lymph nodes located behind the ears and the back of the neck swell. Enlarged lymph nodes are accompanied by their tenderness, among others:

  • general weakness
  • headache,
  • With flu-like symptoms
  • high body temperature – low-grade fever or moderate fever,
  • Runny nose,
  • pharyngitis,
  • lack of appetite

These initial symptoms are more common in older children, teens, and adults. Rubella in preschool children is rarely severe. In this age group, the percentage of asymptomatic infection is the highest. One of the first symptoms of German measles is a rash on the soft palate (Fürchimer’s spots), but this symptom is easily overlooked.

Other symptoms of rubella in older children and adults also include symptoms indicative of arthritis such as pain, swelling, muscle aches, and conjunctivitis. The rubella virus is more likely to cause arthritis in infected women. Arthritis is often seen after the disease has gone away. Rubella in children is mild and often presents with no predictive symptoms – a child who does well develops a rash that passes after a few days. The exception is children who were infected with the rubella virus in utero and those with congenital rubella.

In most cases, a child’s rubella does not require specialized treatment. Only symptomatic treatment, such as antipyretics and medications, are used to relieve symptoms of the infection.

Rubella rash – what does it look like?

The most characteristic symptom of rubella is a macular or maculopapular rash that initially appears behind the ears and face, and then spreads to the trunk and extremities. It usually takes up to 3 days for the rash to spread. The rubella rash disappears after 2-4 days. In the case of rubella, we are treated with a characteristic “descent” of the rash towards the trunk – along with the appearance of rashes on the trunk and extremities, the skin lesions behind the ears and on the face disappear. The rash caused by the rubella virus may be itchy, but it is usually less bothersome than chickenpox, and the skin does not leave any permanent marks than the rash. The disease disappears spontaneously after a few days and in most cases it does not adversely affect public health.

Rubella virus infection in pregnant women

In pregnant women, infection in the first trimester of pregnancy is more likely to cause serious complications.

Important! Most adults who have not been vaccinated against rubella will develop the disease sooner or later. When planning pregnancy, it is worth checking whether we have received vaccinations in order to supplement the missed vaccinations, since infection in early pregnancy can cause serious malformations of the fetus, including mental retardation. Rubella infection often results in a first-trimester miscarriage. Many years of research have shown that the rubella virus leads to pregnancy loss or damage to the baby’s vital organs and systems in 9 out of 10 pregnant women. The risk of fetal infection decreases if a woman becomes ill after the fourth month of pregnancy.

Adult men and adolescents suffer from rubella three times more often than women. In the case of the male sex, testicular pain and epididymitis are a common complication of rubella infection. Sometimes, in adults, the virus causes liver disease, thrombocytopenia, glomerulonephritis, encephalitis, facial paralysis, pneumonia, and optic neuritis.

congenital rubella syndrome

As mentioned earlier, congenital rubella syndrome affects newborns whose mother had rubella during pregnancy. In newborns with congenital rubella syndrome, the following are diagnosed:

  • heart defects
  • hearing loss
  • Cataracts.

The above symptoms are called Gregg’s triad. Other disorders are also diagnosed in infants whose mothers had rubella during pregnancy. Exposure to the virus in utero can lead to damage to various organs and systems, including disturbances in the work of the nervous system, underdevelopment of the limbs, associated with congenital defects of the skeleton, as well as congenital damage to the pancreas, which leads to type 1 diabetes. Complications after infection with the rubella virus may also include meningitis, general weakness of the body, Guillain-Barré syndrome, and hemorrhagic diathesis. Not only do these diseases threaten children with congenital rubella, but complications of infection are rarely diagnosed in older children, adolescents, and adults.

The course of the disease may be unpredictable – some newborns do not initially have abnormalities in the functioning of the body, but may appear in the following months of life. Symptoms observed in infants who contracted rubella in utero only several months after birth include: slow development and neurological disturbances.

What if I have symptoms of German measles?

If rubella is suspected, you should always see your doctor to confirm infection. If a pregnant woman comes into contact with an infected person, it is necessary to immediately consult a gynecologist. The pregnancy card should include the results of tests for the presence of antibodies to rubella and, among other things, toxoplasmosis, which also poses a risk to the fetus. If a pregnant woman has not been vaccinated against rubella and does not suffer from this disease, then it is necessary to give a special immunoglobulin, which contains antibodies against the development of rubella.


Read also:
Children often suffer from these diseases. How much do you know about them?
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Mumps and rubella – what are the symptoms of these two infectious diseases?

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