German measles (rubella) is only moderately infectious. It is transmitted by inhalation of droplets of moisture that are carrying the virus. The incubation period is 2 to 3 weeks, and the affected person is contagious for 1 week before the rash appears.
Signs and Symptoms
- Mild fever
The symptoms of the disease are usually mild and sometimes are hardly noticed. They may include mild fever, enlarged lymph nodes, and a fine, pink rash that appears on the face, the trunk, and then the arms and legs. The rash usually disappears in 2 to 3 days, lasting no more than 1 day on each part of the body. In many cases, the rash does not even occur. Your physician may take a blood sample to check for antibodies to the virus.
How Serious Is Rubella?
In itself, rubella is a mild infection. Once you have had the disease, you are usually permanently immune. However, if a woman is pregnant when she contracts rubella, the consequences for her unborn child may be severe. The child may have any one of various problems including growth retardation, cataracts, rashes, deafness, congenital heart defects, and organ defects. The highest risk to the infant is during the first trimester, but exposure during the second trimester is also dangerous.