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The Rubella is a highly contagious acute viral infection. It is a relatively mild disease in both children and adults; however, in the case of pregnant women it can have very serious consequences, with a high risk of fetal death or congenital defects in the fetus. This virus is transmitted through droplets that an infected person expels when sneezing or coughing.

What is it?

Rubella is a contagious disease caused by infection with a virus from the togavirus family . It can affect people of all ages, although it is especially critical in pregnant women; If the infection occurs during the first months of pregnancy, the risk of contagion to the fetus is very high, in which case very serious congenital malformations can occur .

The incidence of this medical disorder is highest during the spring and summer. However, its incidence in developed countries today is minimal since the beginning of vaccination; the incidence of rubella currently stands at less than 0.3 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

Rubella symptoms

This is a relatively long disease since from the moment of infection to the appearance of the first symptoms, a long period of time elapses, approximately 21 days. In some cases, once the virus reproduces, some signs appear very similar to those of a common cold or flu ; This is why it is so difficult to diagnose rubella in its early phase.

The symptoms of rubella are three. On the one hand, elevated body temperature , especially in children. On the other hand, the appearance of a rash ; a deep red skin rash that begins behind the ears and gradually spreads to the rest of the body. And finally, the increase in lymph nodes .

Once these symptoms appear, the diagnosis of the disease is simple since they are very clear and concrete signs.

Rubella Diagnosis and Treatment

Sometimes this disease is not easy to diagnose in its initial phase since the symptoms are very similar to those of a flu or common cold. Also, when the rash occurs, in some cases rubella is mistaken for measles.

One of the medical tests that can diagnose rubella is blood tests . All values ​​are usually normal if the patient’s health status is good, except for two: leukocytes and platelets, whose levels are lower than normal.

In the case of pregnant women, it is essential to correctly diagnose this disease; Once rubella is confirmed, an ultrasound is performed to check the status of the fetus and if there is any type of malformation.

Rubella: complications

Complications related to this disease are not very frequent; But, like virtually all medical conditions, they exist.

In the case of women, it is common for them to have arthritis , especially in areas such as the wrists and knees. Rubella can also lead to bleeding due to low platelets. A rare but possible complication is encephalitis .

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As we have pointed out, during pregnancy rubella can be transmitted from the mother to the fetus through the placenta. A critical situation since the disease can cause very serious disorders to the fetus, such as congenital malformations .

Currently there is no type of treatment for rubella. Thus, patients affected by the disease are given medications to relieve fever , as well as to reduce pain in the joints and muscles.

How is rubella spread?

Rubella is a highly contagious disease, and it is also very easy to spread. The contagion occurs through the droplets present in the respiratory secretions of infected people . Thus, the infectious agent reaches the pharynx by inhaling these droplets, to then pass into the bloodstream. The virus that causes rubella lodges and reproduces in lymphatic tissue.

The operation of the virus is as follows: once it has multiplied in the lymphatic tissue, it passes back into the bloodstream. Well, that’s when the body begins to produce antibodies to kill the virus.

Infected people can spread the disease from about a week before the first symptoms appear to about two weeks later.

Rubella vaccine

The most effective method to avoid this disease is vaccination ; The rubella vaccine in Spain was included in the vaccination schedule at the end of the 1960s. In this way, the immune system itself is able to fight the virus with hardly any symptoms.

In Spain the vaccine known as “triple viral” is administered; rubella, measles and mumps . The first dose is given between 12 and 15 months and the second at three years. Antibodies to deal with these diseases remain forever in the lymphatic tissue, thus providing lifelong protection against these diseases.

Of course, those adults who did not receive the vaccine as children, it is convenient that they get vaccinated to avoid this disease; something very important especially among women of childbearing age.

It is worth noting that pregnant women cannot be vaccinated against rubella. Therefore, during the gestation period it is essential to avoid contact with anyone who may be infected. After delivery it is advisable to get vaccinated.

Although the vast majority of individuals accept the vaccine without any complications, in some cases joint pain and fever may occur.

Congenital rubella

As we have pointed out, the main problems related to this disease occur in pregnant women during the first trimester of pregnancy.

During the first twenty weeks of pregnancy there is a high risk that the fetus is infected , thus developing what is known as congenital rubella syndrome; a disorder that can lead to a wide range of birth defects: blindness, hearing loss, microcephaly, cerebral palsy …

After 20 weeks of pregnancy, the risks of malformation in the fetus are practically nil.


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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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