Ten-day Measles, 3-day Measles, German Measles, and More

March 4, 2016
Terry Brenneman, MD
Terry Brenneman, MD

Rubeola, roseola, rubella -- oh my! See what you know about traditional lay terms for these diseases and how they are similar and different.

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My mother, born in the 1920's and now deceased, would not have been familiar with the word “rubeola,” but she had a lot of personal experience with the measles. In fact, in her world there were three types of “measles” and I remember she had 7 names for these three types. 

1. Can you match up the traditional lay term with the correct medical name?

10-day measles                                                       a. Rubeola

3-day measles                                                         b. Roseola

German measles                                                      c. Pityriasis rosea

Hard measles                                                           d. Rubella

Red measles                                                            e. Erythema infectiosum 

Baby measles

Soft measles

For answers and next question, please click here.Answers:

► 10-day measles, hard measles, and red measles are the names my mom used for rubeola.

► 3-day measles, German measles, and soft measles were what we medical types would call rubella.

► Baby measles refers to roseola. Other countries have some rather whimsical names for roseola: wind measles (Philippines), sudden measles (Japan, China), tiny measles (Malasia)

These three diseases all have morbilliform (or measles-like) rashes defined as macular, erythematous lesions 2- to 10-mm in diameter but often confluent. A number of other conditions can also cause morbilliform rashes: drug allergy, mononucleosis, Kawaski syndrome, and other viruses.

2. Which of these three conditions is better defined as a syndrome instead of a disease? 

A. Rubeola

B. Rubella

C. Roseola

For answers and next question, please click here.   

Answer: C. Roseola

Rubeola and rubella are each caused by a specific virus so are specific diseases. Roseola is a syndrome characterized by about 3 days of high fever followed by a morbilliform rash. Two subtypes of human herpes type 6 and type 7 herpes are felt to be responsible for most cases of roseola.  With more than one etiologic agent, roseola is better defined as a syndrome

Resources

Mayo Clinic. Diseases and Conditions: Roseola. Accessed on March 3 and available at:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/roseola/basics/causes/con-20023511