​​​What is Rubella?

Rubella, sometimes called "German measles," is a disease caused by a virus. The infection is usually mild with fever and rash. However, if a pregnant woman gets infected, the virus can cause serious birth defects. The Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine protects against rubella.

Who can get Rubella?

A person with rubella may spread the disease to others from 1 week before the rash begins, until 1 - 2 weeks after the rash disappears.  Children and adults who were never vaccinated against rubella may still get this infection.

What are the symptoms of Rubella?

Rubella usually causes the following symptoms lasting 2 or 3 days in children:

  • Rash that starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body
  • Low fever (less than 101 degrees)

Older children and adults may also have swollen glands and symptoms like a cold before the rash appears. Aching joints occur in many cases, especially among young women.

About half of the people who get rubella do not have symptoms.

How is Rubella spread?

Rubella spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

How long is a person contagious?

The disease is most contagious when the person has a rash, but it can spread up to 7 days before the rash appears. People without symptoms can still spread rubella.

Are there complications of Rubella?

In children, rubella is usually a mild disease. In rare cases, serious problems can occur. These include brain infections and bleeding problems.

Rubella is most dangerous for a pregnant woman's fetus. It can cause miscarriage or birth defects like deafness, intellectual disability, and heart defects. As many as 85 out of 100 babies born to mothers who had rubella in the first 3 months of her pregnancy will have a birth defect.

Is there treatment for Rubella?

There is no treatment for Rubella, but it is a vaccine preventable disease.  The MMR vaccine is a shot that includes vaccines for three diseases—​measles, mumps, and rubella. It protects children from rubella by preparing their bodies to fight the rubella virus. Almost all children (at least 95 children out of 100) who get two doses of the MMR vaccine will be protected from rubella.

Always Practice Healthy Habits:

  • Cover mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing or coughing, or turn away when coughing.
  • Immediately throw away used tissues, followed by careful hand washing.
  • Avoid sharing objects if they have been in the mouth (pacifiers, toys, silverware, etc.); wash objects in hot, soapy water between use.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after coughing, sneezing or touching common surfaces like door knobs, keyboards and telephones. You can also use alcohol-based hand cleaners.