Rubella


Last updated Rubella is a mild viral infection which most children used to get as a childhood illness. It is also known as German measles and symptoms are normally similar to a cold, including fever. A rash can also develop and symptoms normally last a few days. [1] A person who has had Rubella usually acquires life-long immunity. The only time when Rubella becomes a problem is when women contract it during early pregnancy. However, vaccinations are done in infancy and often no longer protect women by the time they are of childbearing age.[2,3,6] Rubella can affect the fetal development when the mother gets the disease in the first or sometimes second trimester of pregnancy, which can then result in birth defects, so-called congenital rubella syndrome or CRS. The former Health Protection Agency, the British Paediatric Surveillance Unit and other sources say that there were 200 – 300 cases of congenital rubella per year before the vaccine came in and that this number has since dramatically fallen, so that there are now very few cases. [4,5] Proper surveillance of congenital rubella syndrome only started after the vaccine was introduced and I have not been able to find a primary source for the quoted number of 200-300. Without a source, it is impossible to check if the statement is true. Official statistics for the time period following the introduction of the vaccine do suggest a gradual decline, which could be due to vaccinations. But information from the CDC [6] points to the increasing number of rubella cases in older age groups: “Until recently, there was no predominant age group for rubella cases. During 1982 through 1992, approximately 30% of cases occurred in children younger than 5 years, 30% occurred in children 5 through 14 years, and 30% occurred in persons 15…

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