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[Perspectives] Rubella

Until the mid-20th century physicians and patients alike might greet a diagnosis of rubella with a sigh of relief. A red rash and a fever could be portents of serious sickness, in the form of measles or scarlet fever, or even disfigurement and death from a bout of smallpox. Rubella, by comparison, was merely a few days of mild sickness—often in childhood—granting a lifetime’s immunity. One mid-19th-century American physician noted that “the constitutional symptoms were so mild that it was difficult to keep the children in bed”.