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July 1969

Rubella: Historical Aspects

Author Affiliations

From the Clinical School, Fairfield Hospital for Communicable Diseases, Melbourne.

Am J Dis Child. 1969;118(1):5-11. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1969.02100040007002

THE tangible history of rubella encompasses a period of about 150 years. Its early status of bastard measles and scarlet fever became increasingly legitimate for about a century, but, among the spectacular contagions of the time, rubella was disparaged until 1941 when it received the imprimatur of greatness. Not only did it achieve a place in the hierachy as an infectious disease with exceedingly subtle severe effects but also respect by exemplifying a new concept of infectious processes.

From early in the 18th century German descriptions of a new entity called Rötheln were viewed with slowly diminishing skepticism. The names of de Bergen,1 Jahn,2 Maton,3 Wagner,4 and Homans5 are prominently associated with the early descriptions of the disease.

The growing acceptance of Rötheln or German measles as an epidemic entity is reflected in a paper in the Edinburgh Medical Journal in 1866 by Veale,6