German Measles (Rubella)
German measles (aka rubella) was recognized in 1941 by N. M. Gregg, an Australian ophthalmologist. He noticed that infection of the mother with German measles (rubella) during early pregnancy could cause a characteristic syndrome of congenital malformations. The first feature noticed was cataracts. Gregg published his pioneering observations in 1942. Rapid progress in understanding rubella was not possible until the rubella virus could be grown and demonstrated in tissue culture which was reported in 1962. It was then learned that if a pregnant woman acquires rubella, the virus persists throughout her pregnancy, is present at birth, and continues to be shed by her infected child for many months after birth. Even if the child born with rubella looks normal, the child can be contagious and infect nurses, doctors, medical students, and others caring for it. The standard MMR vaccine is given to prevent measles, mumps and rubella. The MMR vaccine is now given in two dosages. The first at 12-15 months of age. The second at 4-6 years. Most children receive MMR vaccinations. Exceptions may include children born with an inability to fight off infection, some children with cancer, on treatment with radiation or drugs for cancer, on long term steroids (cortisone). People with severe allergic reactions to eggs or the drug neomycin should probably avoid the MMR vaccine. Pregnant women should wait until after delivery before being immunized with MMR. Measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines may be administered as individual shots, if necessary, or as a measles- rubella combination. Some parents object to vaccines in general and they have the right to refuse the administration of vaccines to their children.