This past week I saw a case of congenital Rubella! I thought that here in the U.S. my medical school training would not involve something that has had such a successful vaccine for so long. While I do not know how many other medical students have seen this Congenital Rubella Syndrome, I am really glad that I am doing my training where I am because of the rare diseases I have seen.
While I consider myself lucky to have learned from this, this "unlucky" child was deaf, had cataracts, maintained a patent ductus arteriosus, had microcephaly, and was mentally disabled. After some research I learned what an "unlucky" kid this patient actually was. First his mother had to contract Rubella. If the mother contracted this rare disease 1 month prior to becoming pregnant to 3 months after conceiving, there was about a 50% of Congenital Rubella Syndrome. If the mother got Rubella in the second trimester, the percentage drops to 25%. In the third trimester, the disease is practically unheard of.
So this kid was developing for 9 months and was exposed 1 month prior to conception = 10 months of exposure in the womb. 3 of those months are immune. The mother had a 7 month window of her life (first pregnancy) where getting Rubella could affect her unborn child!
I know many pre-meds, medical students, and residents often get frustrated with the system of medicine. Medicine can be frustrating at times, and the treatment for Congenital Rubella Syndrome is especially frustrating because there really isn't much. However, experiencing cases like these and realizing how far medicine has come is really amazing.
Who knows.....maybe when I finish my training I can help bring vaccines to foreign countries (I really felt like a pre-med on interviews just then)!