Last reviewed by Dr. Raj MD on January 12th, 2022.
What are German Measles?
This medical condition is also referred to as the three-day measles or rubella. The name rubella comes from the Latin word that means “little red”. It became known as German measles because it was first described in the eighteenth century by a German physician. It is not to be confused with the medical condition called measles as this medical condition lasts longer and is caused by a different virus. German measles can affect anyone of any age, gender, or race but it is rare to see it in people over the age of forty or in infants. You will this disease more common during the summer and spring months
Because of the required vaccinations called MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) for children today it is rare to see cases of German measles in the United States. In fact, because of the vaccines, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have stated that in the United States German measles has been eliminated. Most children will have two doses of the vaccine before they start school. The cases that are seen in the United States happen to people who have not been vaccinated. . If you are pregnant and contact German measles, especially during the first three months it can cause birth defects that can be serious or death to the fetus so make sure that you are up-to-date on the vaccine. Although it is rare to get German measles in the United States it is still common to get it in other parts of the world so you should remember this if you are planning a trip abroad.
German Measles Symptoms
Many times the symptoms of German measles are very mild that it is difficult for them to be noticed, children especially. Some feel that the symptoms are similar to the symptoms of the flu. The incubation period, or development, of German measles is from fourteen to twenty-one days after being exposed before you start to feel sick. Within seven days a rash will appear along with a fever that is mild and will be no higher than one hundred two degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
Some of the symptoms that can occur with German measles can include:
- Within seven days after starting to feel sick the child may become irritable, feel fatigues, and have a headache, minor respiratory symptoms such as a runny or stuffy nose along with the fever. These symptoms usually occur before the rash makes its appearance.
- You may also notice that the lymph nodes in various areas such as behind the ears and at the bottom of you skull and in the neck may become swollen.
- They may feel pain when they try to move their eyes upward or side to side. Their eyes may also be red and inflamed.
- The rash usually will first start out on your face as flat pink spots but will start to fade from the face within a day and then spread to the torso, legs, and arms. These spots will start to merge together on the torso but on the arm and legs they will remain separate.
- In the rash area there peeling may occur later.
- The rash may be itchy and will usually disappear in approximately three day in the same way that it first appeared. At least twenty-five percent of the outbreaks of German measles will result in no rash.
- In young females they may experience joints that ache and this can last for a week.
One thing to remember is that the child is contagious seven days before and seven days after the rash first appears.
German Measles Causes
German measles is caused by the Rubella virus and is transmitted by the respiratory route and is passed from one person to the other when the infected person sneezes or coughs into the air. It can also be spread when a person has direct contact with an infected person’s respiratory secretions like mucus. German measles is considered a droplet spread because the microscopic drops from an infected person’s breath can carry the virus through the air to a person who does not have the virus and once it gets into their mouth or nose it can spread throughout their body. If a pregnant woman has German measles she can transmit it to her unborn child via her bloodstream. When a person is infected with German measles they are contagious from ten days before the rash appears until seven to fourteen days after it disappears. It is possible for a person to spread German measles before they even know they have it. German measles is less contagious than measles.
German Measles Treatment
When a person has German measles there is no special treatment required and no treatment will shorten the course of German measles. You should make sure that you are getting plenty of rest. Since it is a contagious disease you may have to avoid contact with others until you are no longer contagious. You should also make sure that you are practicing good hand washing procedures, covering your mouth and nose when sneezing so you do not spread the virus. Make sure that you are eating a healthy diet and drinking plenty of fluids.
For joint pain and fever you can take over-the-counter pain relief medications like Tylenol or Motrin but you should not give your children aspirin. If you are pregnant and contact German measles you need to see your physician as soon as possible. The physician may give you an antibody that is called hyperimmune globulin that can help ward off German measles. Although this can help decrease the symptoms it will not get rid of the possibility of the unborn baby from having congenital rubella syndrome.
Once you have German measles you will have immunity for the rest of your life from getting them again because your body will make antibodies in order to give you this protection.
German Measles Pictures
Pictures, Photos and Images collection of German Measles…