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2012 Outbreak Information

Posted May 4, 2012
The City of Milwaukee Health Department (MHD) continues its ongoing investigation related to a confirmed case of rubella in a City of Milwaukee resident. The MHD continues to follow-up on approximately 100 individuals who came into contact with the confirmed case since April 13, 2012.  At this time, the MHD has not identified any additional cases of confirmed rubella but will continue enhanced surveillance for the disease in the coming 5-6 weeks and to monitor any spread of rubella that may occur as a result of this confirmed case and contact exposures.  If residents are concerned about exposure, they are encouraged to call the MHD at 286-3521.  Residents are reminded that there is a vaccine against rubella available and anyone not already inoculated should receive that immediately to protect themselves and those around them.  Vaccines can be received from your healthcare provider or the MHD.

General Information

Rubella, also known as German measles, is a contagious disease that is caused by rubella virus. Rubella is spread through the air when a sick person coughs or sneezes. Sharing food/drink with a sick person can also spread rubella.  Rubella regularly occurs throughout the world, and is often spread from one country to another by ill travelers.  In pregnant women, rubella can spread to the unborn child through the mother's blood. Rubella can cause an unborn baby to die or to have serious birth defects. Symptoms of rubella may include mild fever, swollen/tender lymph nodes (in the neck or behind the ears), swollen red eyes, and a rash that starts at the face and moves downward. This pink/red spotted rash lasts for about three days and may be itchy. Other symptoms can include headache, runny nose, joint pain/swelling, and loss of appetite. Lymph nodes in other parts of the body besides the face might swell as well. In severe cases, rubella can cause swelling of the brain. An infected person may not have any symptoms but they can still spread rubella to other people.

There is a safe and effective vaccine (MMR) that prevents rubella. The MMR vaccination is required for school/childcare attendance. Children should receive two doses of MMR (at 12-15 months and 4-6 years). Unvaccinated adults should also receive two doses of MMR.

The Milwaukee Health Department (MHD) provides free MMR vaccinations for children and adolescents at several clinic locations. For information on the hours and locations of MHD clinics, click here.

Confirmed or suspected cases of rubella must be reported within 24 hours. In Milwaukee County, cases should be reported to Milwaukee Health Department (MHD) SurvNet at (414) 286-3624 [phone] or (414) 286-0280 [fax].




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