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Children's Health

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Rubella (German Measles) - Topic Overview

How is it treated?

Rubella usually gets better with home care.

  • Use medicines to reduce fever and body aches. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than age 20. It has been linked to Reye syndrome, a serious illness.
  • Drink extra fluids.
  • Get plenty of rest.

Stay away from other people, especially pregnant women, as much as you can so that you don't spread the illness. If you or your child has rubella, don't go to work, school, or day care for 7 days after the rash first appears.1

If you are exposed to the rubella virus while you're pregnant, talk to your doctor. He or she may give you a shot of immunoglobulin (IG) if testing shows that you are not immune. IG doesn't prevent infection, but it may make symptoms less severe. It also lowers the chance of birth defects, although it doesn't always prevent them. Children with congenital rubella syndrome have been born to mothers who have received IG.

Can rubella be prevented?

The rubella vaccine protects at least 9 out of 10 immunized people from getting this illness.1 In the United States, the vaccine is part of the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) and MMRV (measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella [chickenpox]) vaccines. Most children get the vaccine as part of their regular shots.

Outbreaks may occur in people who haven't gotten the vaccine. This is more likely to happen in college, military, health care, and child care settings and among people who have recently moved to the United States from other countries.1

If you are planning to become pregnant and don't know if you're immune to rubella, get a blood test to find out. If you're not immune, you can safely get the rubella vaccine up to 1 month before you become pregnant. If you're not immune and didn't get the vaccine before you became pregnant, take extra care to avoid contact with the virus. Avoid the saliva of babies and young children, and wash your hands often.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 14, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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