ALTHOUGH rubella virus produces a benign self-limiting disease in children and adults, infection in utero may result in congenital anomalies. In addition to the earlier described features of deafness, cardiac defects, and eye defects, the rubella syndrome has recently been shown to include thrombocytopenia, hepatosplenomegaly, central nervous system defects, bone lesions, and growth retardation with failure to thrive.1-6 Affected infants may experience any one of these anomalies or combinations of them.
In addition to congenital anomalies, infection by rubella virus in utero has been found to result in viral persistence which occurs despite the presence of circulating antibodies.7-11 Continued shedding of virus following infection is an unusual phenomenon in humans. It has been observed regularly only with one other virus, namely cytomegalovirus.12 Rubella virus persistence in congenital rubella has been demonstrated by isolating the virus from throat swabs, spinal fluid, urine, feces, and other clinical material for
Rawls WE, Phillips CA, Melnick JL, Desmond MM. Persistent Virus Infection in Congenital Rubella. Arch Ophthalmol. 1967;77(4):430-433. doi:10.1001/archopht.1967.00980020432003