What is rubella?

Rubella, also known as German measles, is a viral disease; in most cases, the condition is mild but in pregnant women the effects can be extremely serious. The rubella virus can be easily passed through the air by means of droplets, which are released when people cough or sneeze; the illness is as infectious as flu.

Rubella is now very rare because vaccinations against the disease are routinely given to babies and children in the UK. The rubella immunisation forms part of the MMR vaccination, which also protects against measles and mumps. All doctors are required by law to notify their local authority in the event of diagnosing somebody with rubella.

What is congenital rubella?

Congenital rubella occurs when a pregnant woman contracts rubella and passes it on to her unborn child; the affects of congenital rubella can be very serious for the foetus. Congenital rubella is very rare; there are between 1 and 5 cases per year on average in the UK.

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