RUBELLA is a contagious viral disease traditionally affecting children and young adults. It's one of a trio of diseases children are immunised against at 12 months old in the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine. In mothers, congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) infection just before conception and in early pregnancy may result in miscarriage, foetal death or congenital defects.
The highest risk of CRS is found in countries with high rates of susceptibility to rubella among women of childbearing age, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says.
Rubella is transmitted in airborne droplets when infected people sneeze or cough. Also called German measles, it is characterised by a distinctive red rash, similar to that seen in measles. However, rubella is caused by a different virus than measles and is neither as infectious nor as severe.
If there are signs and symptoms they will appear about two to three weeks after exposure to the virus. They typically last about two to three days and may include fever, headache, runny nose, red eyes, enlarged lymph nodes, aching joints and a pink rash that covers the face, chest, arms and legs.
The MMR vaccine has drastically reduced or practically eliminated rubella and CRS in many developed and in some developing countries, the WHO says. Jamaica has successfully eliminated rubella since 2000, while the last case of CRS was recorded in 1998.