Dr. M.J. Bazos, MD. Patient Handout

About Your Diagnosis

Rubella, or German measles, is a mildly contagious disease caused by a virus. It affects the lymph glands and skin. It occurs most commonly in children aged 5–9 years and young adults. The number of cases have decreased because of the use of vaccines. The most common complication of rubella is serious birth defects if a pregnant woman has the disease in the first 3–4 months of pregnancy. It is spread by direct contact with an infected individual. Patients with rubella are usually contagious for 1 week before the rash develops until 1 week after it fades.

Living With Your Diagnosis
Signs and symptoms of rubella are a mild fever, headache, fatigue, a red rash on the body that lasts for 2–3 days, and swollen lymph glands in the neck. Adults may have joint pain also.

Recovery occurs in 1 week. No specific treatment is necessary. An increase in fluid intake and extra rest may be all that is needed. If anyone who is pregnant is exposed, notify them immediately so they can contact their doctor. Nonaspirin products such as Tylenol can be used for fever and aches.

The DOs
• Rest until the fever is gone.
• Limit activities for 1–2 days after the rash disappears.
• Avoid contact with others for 1 week after the rash is gone.
• Notify any pregnant woman who may have been exposed.
• Increase fluid intake.
• Use nonaspirin products such as Tylenol to reduce fever and aches.

The DON’Ts
• Don’t Give aspirin to a child younger than 16 years. Aspirin given during a viral infection has been shown to increase the risk of Reye’s syndrome occurring.
• Don’t send a child to school until the rash has been gone for 1 week.
• Avoid exposing a pregnant woman to the disease.
When to Call Your Doctor
• A high fever develops.
• A cough or shortness of breath develops.
• Increased drowsiness, weakness, or headache develops.
• Any unusual bleeding occurs 1–4 weeks after recovery.

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