For many years the clinical condition designated originally as Rötheln by German physicians (Hoffman, 1740; de Bergan, 1752; Orlow, 1758) was regarded as a variant form of measles or scarlet fever. Maton in 1815 first described it as a separate disease entity, and Veale in 1866 in Edinburgh gave it the name rubella.
Although ordinarily considered a mild disease of childhood, in recent years it has become apparent that the infection in older children and adults can be associated with severe clinical manifestations, including joint involvement and purpura. Nor is the diagnosis of rubella always easy to make. Differentiation from other exanthems often presents a problem, and until recently specific diagnostic tests were lacking. However, over a period of years, evidence for viral etiology has accumulated, from such sources as the infectiveness in human volunteers of blood and filtered nasopharyngeal secretions from clinical cases.
Early attempts at tissue-culture isolation were