Congenital rubella

  • C. L. Miller
  • H. Bradley


‘German measles’ was recognized as a clinical disease in Germany as early as the 18th century. Despite this, most doctors continued to think of it as either a mild form of measles or a combination of measles and scarlet fever. It was not until 1881 that the International Congress of Medicine gave it official recognition as a disease, and dignified it with the name ‘rubella’ which, since it only means ‘red’, was not particularly helpful in distinguishing it from other infections involving a rash. It was generally considered to be a mild and unimportant, infection until 1941, when an Australian ophthalmologist, Sir Norman Gregg, reported an unusual number of newborn infants with congenital cataract (Gregg, 1941). The characteristics were different from those usually seen, and he noted that many of the affected infants also had cardiac lesions. He did not believe this was a genetic phenomenon but thought that an epidemiological explanation was more likely. He was proved right when his enquiries uncovered a history of rubella in early pregnancy in nearly every mother. This was a landmark observation and was quickly confirmed from all over the world.


Rubella Virus Measle Vaccine Congenital Cataract Scarlet Fever Public Health Laboratory 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. L. Miller
  • H. Bradley

There are no affiliations available

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