Rubella, commonly referred to as "German measles", is a viral illness with worldwide distribution. Rubella infection is predominantly a mild disease in children and adults. Clinical manifestations include a low-grade fever, headache, sore throat, and a generalized skin rash. However, rubella infection during pregnancy is more serious, with well-documented congenital complications, including deafness, cataracts, mental retardation and fetal death. Aggressive immunization of preschool children has greatly reduced the incidence of rubella epidemics, but a need still exists for accurate monitoring of immune status, especially for women of child-bearing age.
Demonstration of rubella IgG antibody in women prior to conception provides assurance of fetal protection from possible rubella viral infection during pregnancy. The diagnosis of a primary rubella infection is based on
- the presence of IgM class antibodies,
- the appearance of at least a two-fold rise in rubella IgG antibody, and concentration between two samples collected at an interval of at least two to three weeks.