German measles

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Related to German measles: roseola


a highly contagious illness caused by a virus; it is usually a childhood disease but can be contracted at any age. Epidemics usually recur every 2 or 3 years and are most common in the winter and spring. In spite of the availability of a vaccine and intensive effort on the part of public health personnel to eradicate the disease, measles continues to occur in the United States. Called also rubeola.
Cause. The virus that causes measles is spread by droplet infection and can also be picked up by touching an article, such as a handkerchief, that an infected person has recently used. The incubation period is usually 11 days, although it may be as few as 9 or as many as 14. The patient can transmit the disease from 3 or 4 days before the rash appears until the rash begins to fade, a total of about 7 or 8 days. One attack of measles usually gives lifetime immunity to rubeola, although not to German measles (rubella), a somewhat similar disease.
Symptoms. Measles symptoms generally appear in two stages. In the first stage the patient feels tired and uncomfortable, and may have a running nose, a cough, a slight fever, and pains in the head and back. The eyes may become reddened and sensitive to light. The fever rises a little each day.

The second stage begins at the end of the third or beginning of the fourth day. The patient's temperature is generally between 38° and 40°C (103° and 104°F). Koplik's spots, small white dots like grains of salt surrounded by inflamed areas, can often be seen on the gums and the inside of the cheeks. A rash appears, starting at the hairline and behind the ears and spreading downward, covering the body in about 36 hours. At first the rash consists of separate pink spots, about a quarter of an inch in diameter, but later some of the spots may run together, giving the patient a blotchy look. The fever usually subsides after the rash has spread. The rash turns brownish and fades after 3 or 4 days.

The most serious complication of rubeola is encephalitis, which occurs in about 0.1 per cent of all cases and is responsible for an estimated 600 cases of mental retardation each year. Other complications include pneumonia, otitis media, and mastoiditis.
Patient Care. The patient should be kept in bed as long as the rash and fever continue, and should get as much rest as possible. Aspirin, nose drops, and cough medicine may be prescribed during this stage. Water and fluids can be given for fever. The sickroom should be well ventilated and fairly warm. If the patient's eyes are sensitive to light, strong sunlight should be kept out of the room. The rash may itch a great deal and prevent the patient from resting. If so, calamine lotion, cornstarch solution, or plain cool water will afford some relief. If the itching continues, antihistamine drugs may be necessary.

Measles can greatly lower resistance to other infections such as bronchitis, pneumonia, and ear infection. If the patient's temperature remains high for more than 2 days after the rash fades, or if he complains of pain in the ear, throat, chest, or abdomen, medical attention should be obtained without delay.

The person with measles should be placed under respiratory precautions until the fifth day of the rash. Anyone with a cold or cough should be kept away from the patient because another infection can cause serious complications. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend continuing respiratory isolation precautions for 4 days after start of the rash, except in immunocompromised patients, with whom precautions should be maintained for the duration of the illness.
Prevention. The first measles vaccine was developed and made available in the early 1960s. It consisted of killed virus and is now known to have conferred little or no immunity and, in addition, made the person susceptible to the development of atypical measles when exposed to the disease. Children who received this type of vaccine should be given the newer live vaccine in order to be protected against the disease. The live measles virus vaccine confers lifelong immunity in 95 per cent of those who receive potent vaccine. A 12 to 20 per cent potency failure can occur when the vaccine is not stored and refrigerated properly.

The live vaccine usually is given when the child is 15 months of age. Until then the child is protected by the temporary immunity acquired from its mother. If the vaccine is given before 15 months, the temporary immunity of the mother may prevent active immunity from taking place in the child. Children must be given the vaccine before exposure to measles, or within 48 hours after exposure; otherwise the vaccine is ineffective. If the vaccine cannot be given to a child exposed to measles, measles immune globulin (MIG) or the standard immune serum globulin is given; a waiting period of 3 months is then necessary before the measles vaccine is given. The vaccine is contraindicated during pregnancy.
German measles (three-day measles) rubella.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.


(rū-bel'ă), Do not confuse this word with rubeola.
An acute but mild exanthematous disease caused by rubella virus (Rubivirus family Togaviridae), with enlargement of lymph nodes, but usually with little fever or constitutional reaction; a high incidence of birth defects in children results from maternal infection during the first trimester of fetal life (congenital rubella syndrome).
[L. rubellus, fem. -a, reddish, dim. of ruber, red]
Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012

German measles

n. (used with a sing. or pl. verb)
The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2007, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

German measles

Rubella, see there.
McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


An acute exanthematous disease caused by a rubella virus (Rubivirus), with enlargement of lymph nodes, but usually with little fever or constitutional reaction; a high incidence of birth defects in children results from maternal infection during the first several months of fetal life (congenital rubella syndrome).
Synonym(s): epidemic roseola, German measles, third disease.
[L. rubellus, fem. -a, reddish, dim. of ruber, red]
Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing © Farlex 2012

German measles

Collins Dictionary of Medicine © Robert M. Youngson 2004, 2005

German measles



a mild human disease whose main feature is a rash on the body occuring about 18 days after infection. Caused by the rubella virus, the condition is highly contagious, being spread by direct contact via nasal secretions. The virus can be transmitted from mother to foetus and may cause serious damage in many foetal tissues and even death. The major period of risk to the child is the first 3 months of pregnancy when there is at least a 30% risk of abnormality. For this reason many Western countries have a routine immunization programme for young females, either as babies or between the ages of 10–14 years.
Collins Dictionary of Biology, 3rd ed. © W. G. Hale, V. A. Saunders, J. P. Margham 2005


An acute but mild exanthematous disease caused by rubella virus, with enlargement of lymph nodes, but usually with little fever or constitutional reaction.
Synonym(s): German measles.
[L. rubellus, fem. -a, reddish, dim. of ruber, red]
Medical Dictionary for the Dental Professions © Farlex 2012

Patient discussion about German measles

Q. How expensive is a rubella test? I was told that in order to get a marriage license in Indiana, that my fiancee has to get tested for rubella. I was wondering how to go about doing that and how much a typical test costs. Thank you.

A. the average cost is 21$, and i'm not so sure it's in the way Terrany suggested...if i'm not mistaken, it's an antibody test to see if she is vaccinated or not. and that is a simple blood test:

More discussions about German measles
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References in periodicals archive ?
This is particularly true in the case of German measles.
Women who become infected with German measles at an early stage in their pregnancy run the risk of giving birth to babies with serious birth defects, such has hearing problems or physical deformities.
Japan is a popular destination for many Taiwanese in the autumn months but Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has put out a travel warning this year due to an increase in rubella (German measles) cases in the neighboring country.
Of these cases, 28 or 1.43 percent were classified as confirmed measles, while 329 cases or 16.75 percent were classified as rubella (german measles).
Up to now, pregnant women have been offered a blood test to check whether they are immune to rubella - also known as German measles.
German measles or rubella is a common childhood viral illness.
Amman , April 15 (Petra) -- A seven-year-old child who had suffered brain atrophy that had affected his sight, hearing and the ability to speak because his mother was afflicted by the German measles during her pregnancy, has now regained his vision after a surgery.
Mr Barnes, who was born with disabilities after his mother had German measles while pregnant, was mugged outside his home in Low Fell, Gateshead.
Early this month, the DOH announced that it is aiming to cover an estimated 11 million children, newborns up to below five to be vaccinated against measles and Rubella (German measles) and an estimated 13 million children of the same age for the oral polio vaccine.
Mumps is also showing signs of increasing, and we would not wish to see rubella (German Measles) re-established in the community with the possibility of devastating consequences for unborn children - we must do all we can to stop these diseases spreading too.
If German measles was around, girls especially were exposed to gain immunity to save future pregnancy of disabled babies born blind, deaf or brain damaged.
The campaign, which will take place throughout March and April, will provide over 3.5 million shots, with children receiving the MMR vaccine against measles, mumps, and rubella (German measles).