Rubella- also known as German measles – is a rare illness spread through the air that causes a spotty rash to develop. It usually takes around one week for the symptoms of Rubella to clear. Severe complications can occur causing life-long illnesses. If a non-immune pregnant lady gets rubella it can cause severe complications such as heart problems, deafness, small under-developed brains, lesions on the brain, liver, lungs and in bone marrow.
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The Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine offers immunity against all three of these diseases. A full course of the MMR vaccination requires two doses, with at least four weeks between each dose. Adults and older children who did not receive MMR as part of the childhood vaccination programme can still be vaccinated at any age.
Countries at risk
Mumps is prevalent in much of Asia, Africa, the Indian sub-continent and South America. More recently there have also been outbreaks of Rubella in Poland and Japan.
The best way to protect yourself from Mumps when travelling is to ensure you have had two doses of the MMR vaccine at least a month before setting off. Also, to reduce the risk of spreading or catching the illness on your travels, you should:
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water
- Cover your mouth with tissues when you cough or sneeze
- Throw used tissues in the bin
- Avoid sharing cutlery, cups, towels, clothes or bedding
Signs and Symptoms
The primary symptom of Rubella is a red or pink spotty rash, which usually takes 2 to 3 weeks to appear after exposure to the virus. Additional symptoms include:
- Aching fingers, wrists or knees
- High temperature exceeding 38°C
- A cough
- Sneezing and a runny nose
- Sore throat
- Red eyes
- Swollen glands