FACTS: A childhood encounter with “little red” (or “rubella” in Latin) was historically considered a rite of passage. Usually symptoms were limited to little red rashes on the face, arms, and torso, often accompanied by joint pains, headaches and fevers, generally lasting no more than three days. In fact, rubella is sometimes referred to as the “three day measles” though this is a colloquialism: true measles is actually caused by Rubeola, which is a completely different virus. (Rubella is also sometimes called “German measles” because the virus was first identified by German doctors in the 1880s.)
Unfortunately, while rubella normally poses only minor risks to healthy individuals, it can be very dangerous to unborn children infected in the womb. If rubella is contracted in the first 20 weeks of life, a rash of devastating consequences can occur including heart disorders, mental retardation, deafness, blindness – and even death.