Stacks Image 137


German measles is nearly always a mild illness of little consequence. There is one, important, exception, to this. If a pregnant woman who is not protected against rubella (either from having caught the illness or having been vaccinated) catches German measles, then her baby is at risk of contracting the infection and being born damaged from congenital rubella syndrome (CRS). This can result in deafness, blindness, heart damage and brain damage.

In all other situations, German measles is usually a mild illness that causes a pink-red rash, mild fever and, typically, swollen glands (lymph nodes) at the back of the neck. The disease is harmless and serious complications are almost unknown. Up to half of all people who catch German measles do not even get ill at all. However, it may cause temporarily painful joints in adults, and rarely causes a mild inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) in about 1 in 6,000 infections, though recovery is normally complete. A rare bleeding disorder called Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia Purpura (ITP) very occasionally follows an attack of German measles.

Picture courtesy CDC