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Rubella, also called German measles, is a contagious infection
caused by a virus. It usually causes a mild illness with a fine, red rash over
most of the body, swollen glands, and low fever.
Rubella is not common in the United States because most children
are vaccinated (immunized) against it. Most people who get rubella are young
adults who have not been vaccinated. A person can develop immunity to rubella
by having the disease or being vaccinated.
Rubella is a mild illness in adults. But if a woman gets
rubella during pregnancy, her baby is at risk for birth defects, such as heart defects, deafness, and
cataracts. The illness can also result in miscarriage or stillbirth. The
earlier the infection occurs in a woman's pregnancy, the greater the risk that her baby will have severe defects. Women who are not immune to rubella should be vaccinated before
Current as of:
July 26, 2016
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & Christine Hahn, MD - Epidemiology
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