Rubella, also referred to as German measles, usually starts out with a mild rash, fever, and swollen lymph nodes. Symptoms of the common cold, such as a runny nose and sore throat, may also occur early on, as can headaches and conjunctivitis. Adults are also prone to joint and limb pain, though children can also get these symptoms of rubella in some cases. While this disease is not particularly dangerous for most otherwise healthy people, it can cause severe birth defects or even miscarriage in early pregnancy. Most people are immunized against rubella, as this disease is quite contagious.
Most symptoms of rubella usually do not appear until at least two weeks after exposure to the disease, which is partly why it can spread so quickly to others. On the other hand, some people get early symptoms of rubella just before the two week incubation period is over. They usually include cold symptoms, such as a runny nose, sore throat, and general feeling of illness. Headaches and a fever may also show up during this time, sometimes accompanied by conjunctivitis, which is irritation of the eyeball and eyelid lining. These symptoms are especially common among teenagers and older children.
Despite the possibility of these very early symptoms of rubella, the majority of people do not notice anything wrong until a rash shows up on their face. It usually spreads to the neck and the rest of the body, starting out pink and quickly turning into distinctive red dots. In some cases, this is the only symptom of rubella, while some patients have no rash, but suffer from other signs. For example, the glands in the throat and behind the ears and head often become tender and swollen, and a mild fever usually persists for several days. Adult women may experience joint and limb pain that may last for up to a month, though some men get this same symptom.
Those particularly at risk for rubella are unborn babies, who may get it from their mother during the first trimester of pregnancy. Unfortunately, this can cause a miscarriage or birth defects, as it often leads to congenital rubella syndrome. The most common medical problems experienced by babies with this syndrome include deafness, stunted growth, heart problems, brain issues, cataracts, and glaucoma. For this reason, women who are considering becoming pregnant are encouraged to be immunized against this disease, while those who are already pregnant and not immunized should avoid people who show symptoms of rubella.