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August 15, 1980

Are You Susceptible to Rubella?

JAMA. 1980;244(7):661. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03310070015016

To the Editor.—  Physicians and nurses who practice obstetrics may be unknowingly susceptible to rubella. Their acquisition of the disease potentially endangers a large number of fetuses.There has been a recent report of classic rubella illness in an actively practicing obstetrician.1 This problem can be prevented.Each member of an obstetrical team (attending, house staff, students, nurses) could be tested for rubella immunity. Commercial tests are readily available. Assessment of immune status is rapid, inexpensive, and accurate. The test principle is simple. Rubella virus has the property of agglutinating RBCs. Rubellaspecific antibodies will inhibit this agglutination.Any seronegative member of the obstetrical team could be immunized for rubella. A past history of rubella illness should not be accepted as an indication of immunity. Only serological testing is adequate proof of immunity.It seems prudent to be aware of this potential problem and to actively take steps toward prevention.