Anchor Point:WhatWhat is Rubella?
Rubella or German measles as it is commonly known, is a mild infectious disease caused by a virus. It is characterised by a rash, swollen glands and fever in those individuals who contract it and develop symptoms, however many individuals have no symptoms. If it is contracted during the first eight to ten weeks of pregnancy, there is an up to 85% chance of damage to the unborn child with multiple defects present at birth. This is known as Congenital Rubella Syndrome.
Rubella is spread via droplet infection through coughs and sneezes from an infected person to one who is not immune.
The incubation period is 14-21 days and the patient is infectious from one week before to one week after the rash appears.
Anchor Point:WhoWho is at risk?
While rubella is a mild disease in children it is a major threat to women in the first trimester of pregnancy. Rubella vaccine for pre-pubertal girls was introduced in Ireland in 1971. This policy allowed wild rubella virus to circulate among younger children and older boys, and did not totally prevent rubella in pregnant women. Therefore universal immunisation was included in the routine childhood immunisation schedule in 1988 with the introduction of the combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. Vaccination of both boys and girls against rubella at a young age has led to a decrease in rubella notifications.
Anchor Point:CompWhat are the complications of Rubella?
Rarely the following can occur :
Adult females frequently experience arthritis and arthralgia (joint pains and inflammation) after rubella infection.
Congenital Rubella Syndrome
The risk of damage to an unborn child is up to 85% if the mother contracts rubella during the first eight to ten weeks of pregnancy. This declines to 10-20% by 16 weeks and after 20 weeks of pregnancy damage to the foetus is rare.
Congenital rubella syndrome babies may be born with :
Anchor Point:ScreenRubella screening
All women of child bearing age should be screened for rubella antibodies and immunised when necessary. This can be carried out at family planning, infertility and occupational health clinics and during ante-natal care.
Anchor Point:PrevPrevention of Rubella
Rubella is an infectious disease which can be prevented through vaccination. In Ireland vaccination against rubella infection is included in the childhood immunisation schedule. The rubella vaccine is part of the combined measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (MMR). The first dose of MMR vaccine is given to children aged 12-15 months followed by a second dose at age 4-5 years. For older children who have not received two doses, MMR vaccine should be given as soon as possible and a second dose one month later.
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