Rubella vs. Rubeola


These two medical terms are pronounced exactly the same way but just like the different spellings, they have two different meanings also. Although they are both types of measles,  a virus that causes skin rashes, they have different characteristics, making them two different diseases.

Both of these conditions are very life-threatening if left untreated, or treated incorrectly.

The first big difference: Rubeola (measles) is a virus which affects the respiratory system of the body. Rubella (German measles) on the other hand, is a virus which affects the skin and the lymph nodes.

The second big difference: The two have very different symptoms.

Rubeola, because it affects the respiratory system, will result in symptoms such as a fever, sneezing and runny nose, a scratchy or sore throat and a cough. The runny nose, high fever and hacking cough will be the first symptoms to materialize. It has the potential to be a more dangerous condition, leading to further problems such as an ear infection, bronchitis, diarrhea and pneumonia if left untreated. Out of the two conditions, rubeola could prove to be more dangerous than rubella.

The rash will also be different between the two. The rubeola rash is often covering more of the body and the color is considerably darker than rubella – dark brown and red in appearance.

One final thing that makes rubeola stand aside from rubella is that it will often be accompanied by Koplik spots. These will form in the mouth and generally center around a blue / off-white dot in the center of a bigger, red outer area.

Rubella, on the other hand, is a skin condition and one that affects the lymph nodes also. In pregnant women, it can be especially dangerous and as well as causing miscarriages, it can create birth defects, especially as the condition is often brushed aside with the symptoms believed to be the early stages of pregnancy itself.

In non-pregnant women and other people, German measles or rubella is less dangerous than rubeola and lasts for around three days before symptoms start to dissipate.

The symptoms are less severe with rubella also. The rash is more pinky-red than brown, and it has a more spotted effect. The spots are smaller in size. Rubeola is more ‘mottled’.

Joint swelling, swollen lymph nodes and a couple of days with a high fever are also symptoms that come hand in hand with the condition.

The third big difference: Rubella and rubeola are contagious for different lengths of time which makes spreading the disease easier if you aren’t sure which one you’re suffering from.

Rubella, the least serious of the two, is contagious for one week before the breakout, during the breakout, and then for one week after the breakout.

Rubeola is contagious for four days before the breakout, during the breakout, and then for four days from the point the rash appears.

Rubella and Rubeola: The Treatment 

Viruses cannot generally be treated and need to be battled by the white blood cells and immune system of the body itself.

The best advice you will be given by your doctor is to drink plenty of fluids, eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables to give your immune system the nutritional boost it needs during periods of sickness and ill health, and rest. You will need to have the time away from work because the condition is contagious so use it wisely and do what the doctor says – rest.

You can be given painkillers to help with the pain and the fever too but aside from that, the only other option is the vaccination for measles. The MMR is now given to children so a disease breakout is relatively rare. Usually given between the ages of twelve and fifteen months, the second booster shot is given at four ages to continue the cycle and give full protection.

There are a number of people who should not get the MMR vaccination and these include those born between the year of 1956 because it is assumed the body has built up a natural immunity to the disease as it was so rife at that time period.

On top of that, an allergic reaction to the initial injection would stop doctors from administering the second booster shot. If you are allergic to either neomycin or gelatin, you should not have the MMR. If you are pregnant or are planning to get pregnant, you shellac consult medical advice before planning to have the vaccination. Also, if you are on medication which causes a weakened immune system, you should consult medical advice before having the shot and this includes suffering from AIDS or HIV.