Rubella is a viral illness that is asymptomatic half the time but can present with flu like symptoms and a whole body red rash. Although it is mild and resolves by itself, if contracted in pregnancy it is associated with birth defects and fetal demise.

Where does it occur?

It occurs worldwide, although it is more common in under developed countries.

How is it transmitted?

It is transmitted through contact with the respiratory secretions of infected people through sneezing, coughing, etc.

Is it contagious from person to person?

It is contagious from person to person, usually for up to a week after the appearance of the rash.

What is the risk for travelers?

The risk of exposure is high in undeveloped countries.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Symptoms consist of low-grade fever, weakness, headache, sore throat, runny nose and pink eye; followed by red sandpaper like rash that involves the whole body. Some have swollen lymph glands of the neck and painful swollen joints. Involvement of the central nervous system with headache, stiff neck, confusion and delirium are also noted.

If women are infected during pregnancy the fetus can develop congenital defects.

Are there any lab tests to diagnose the illness?

Blood antibody tests are available.

Is there any treatment?

Treatment is supportive with rest, fluids, Tylenol, etc.

What preventive measures can be taken?

Rubella vaccine is available and effective in preventing illness.

How soon will one experience symptoms?

Symptoms develop gradually 2-3 weeks after exposure.

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