Rubella is a viral infection more commonly known as German measles or 3-day measles. It primarily affects the skin and lymph glands and usually enters the body through the nose or throat, but it can also pass through a pregnant woman's bloodstream to infect her unborn child. The passing of the disease from mother to unborn child is known as congenital rubella and is very dangerous. The baby faces a much higher chance of low birth weight, cataracts, deafness, and severe mental retardation. Problems occur in about 25% of babies born to infected mothers.

The symptoms of rubella may include a rash, slight fever, joint aches, headache, discomfort, runny nose and reddened eyes. The lymph nodes just behind the ears and at the back of the neck may swell causing some soreness and pain. The rash, which may be itchy, first appears on the face and progresses from head to foot, lasting about three days. As many as half of all rubella cases occur without a rash. Like chicken pox, people usually get rubella only once and are then immune to it the rest of their lives.

A rubella vaccine became available in 1969 and is now part of the standard battery of vaccinations that most people undergo as children. People are usually vaccinated between the ages of 12-15 months old. Although rubella is generally a mild disease, the vaccine was considered very important due to the fact that it helps to stop the spread of congenital rubella. Estimates are that 10% of young women of childbearing age are currently susceptible to rubella; obstetricians usually will check for immunity.

The term “German” has nothing to do with the country, but probably came from the Latin term “germanus” meaning “similar to.”

“Rubella” is also the title of one of my favorite Smoking Popes songs. Although it was originally released on their 1994 album Born To Quit, I find that the version found on their 1998 live album is much better; lead singer Josh Caterer had now fully embraced his new singing style and the emotion of the lyrics really comes through. I totally adore the metaphor of love and women as a disease.

I'm inflamed with desire
and its spreading like wildfire
She doesn't know it but she'll soon be mine
Its just a question of time

I'm insanely obsessed
and I simply will not rest
She doesn't know it yet, but she's the one
And I won't stop until I'm done

And the heart that she has stolen
has now swollen to twice its natural size
I've lost six pounds since I laid eyes on her

I'm in love with this girl
she's infected my whole world
She doesn't know it but she's deep inside of me
And now I'm gone completely

She explodes like a fist
and she burns from the first kiss
I haven't told her but she's all mine now
I knew somehow I would catch her

Ru*bel"la (?), n. [NL., fr. L. rubellus reddish.] Med.

An acute specific disease with a dusky red cutaneous eruption resembling that of measles, but unattended by catarrhal symptoms; -- called also German measles.


© Webster 1913.

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