Milwaukee cab driver positive for rubella

The city of Milwaukee issued a health alert last week after a taxi driver tested positive for rubella, or German measles.

Health officials warn that any contact the driver may have had with a pregnant woman could endanger her unborn child, according to TheNorthwestern.com.

Authorities want to contact anyone who took an American United taxi between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. from April 13 to April 21.

Milwaukee Health Department Director Paul Biedrzycki said that developmental delays, birth defects and seizures can result from respiratory contact with a pregnant woman. Rubella can be transmitted through water droplets from coughing, sneezing or talking in close proximity.

Rubella has a significant incubation period, meaning it could take up to another week before other cases surface. Symptoms include a rash and fever that typically lasts two to three days, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although rubella is considered to be a mild disease in children and adults, it can be especially dangerous for pregnant women. Ninety percent of pregnant women who are infected with rubella in the first trimester give birth to children with congenital rubella syndrome. Biedrzycki said that rubella does not appear to cause the same severe consequences in the second or third trimesters, according to JSOnline.com.

The taxi driver is the first known case of rubella confirmed in Milwaukee since 2008, when a woman who did not know she was infected is believed to have exposed more than 700 people in several days after riding a shuttle bus.

The American United cab company gave health officials a list of at least 50 people who rode in the taxi with the infected driver, but the information is considered to be incomplete. In addition, many of the riders do not live in the Milwaukee area and may be difficult to find.