In the majority of cases, rubella is a mild illness which does not require medical treatment; symptoms usually fade of their own accord and with the help of over the counter medication. If you have got rubella, you should take time off school or work for at least five days after the symptoms appear, keep your children off school during this period of time and avoid contact with pregnant women. Symptoms should disappear within one week. Try to get plenty of rest and drink lots of water if you have rubella and arrange to see your doctor; they are required by law to report any cases of rubella but make sure you ring them first to make sure you don’t visit the surgery when there may be pregnant women around.
If you are pregnant and you develop rubella, follow the advice above and contact your doctor immediately. If you are less than 20 weeks gone, you will usually be referred to a specialist obstetrician who will offer you tests to see whether or not your baby has been infected. The doctor will explain the risks of congenital rubella syndrome and will explain how the tests work. The amniocentesis test is usually used to determine whether the baby has been infected.
What should I do if somebody close to me has rubella?
If somebody around you has rubella you should try to keep away from them; rubella can be spread very easily by coughing or sneezing and the effects of rubella can be very serious for pregnant women; the unborn baby may be seriously harmed. If you accidently come into contact with somebody with rubella, you should contact your GP as quickly as possible; this is particularly important if you are not immune to the infection. Your GP can then test to see if you have been infected and then take the appropriate course of action.
What happens if my baby has been affected?
If you have a test and the results find that your baby has been infected and has congenital rubella syndrome, your doctor will explain the results to you and outline your options. Your doctor may suggest you have genetic counselling to decide whether or not you wish to continue with the pregnancy. The risk of the baby having birth defects is much higher during the early weeks of pregnancy and your doctor will explain the possible effects to you.
If your baby has a very high chance of having serious birth defects, you may decide to terminate the pregnancy; if this is the case, you will be offered support and help and you can arrange to see a counsellor.