Rubella is a very contagious (easily spread) illness caused by the rubella virus. It is usually a mild illness. But in rare cases, it may cause more serious problems.
If you are pregnant and get infected with the
rubella virus, your baby (fetus) could become infected too. This can cause birth defects, including serious defects known as congenital rubella
syndrome (CRS). CRS can cause hearing loss,
eye problems, heart problems, and
Did You Know?
Under the Affordable Care Act, many health insurance plans will provide free children’s preventive care services, including checkups, vaccinations and screening tests. Learn more.
Rubella also is called German measles or
What causes rubella?
The rubella virus most often
is spread through droplets of fluid from the mouth, nose, or eyes of someone
who has the infection. A person who has the infection can spread these droplets
by coughing, sneezing, talking, or sharing food or drinks. You can get infected by touching something that has the droplets on it and then touching
your eyes, nose, or mouth before washing your hands.
you have rubella, you are most likely to spread it a few days before the rash
starts until 5 to 7 days after the rash first appears. But you can spread the virus even if you don't have any symptoms.
If you've had rubella, it is very unlikely that you will get it again.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of rubella may
A mild fever.
Swollen glands (lymph nodes),
especially behind the ear and at the back of the head.
A mild rash that starts on the face and spreads to the neck, the chest, and the rest of the
Adults, especially women, also may have joint pain. Older children and teens
also may have eye pain, a sore throat, and body aches. Young children may have
only a rash.
Symptoms may not start until 14 to 21 days after
you've been near someone who has the infection. Some people don't have
How is rubella diagnosed?
A blood test can help
your doctor find out if a recent infection you've had was caused by the rubella
virus. The test also shows if you have been immunized against rubella or are
immune to the virus.
How is it treated?
Rubella usually gets better with home care.
Use medicines to reduce fever and body aches. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than age 20. It has been linked to
Reye syndrome, a serious illness.
Drink extra fluids.
Get plenty of rest.
Stay away from other people, especially pregnant women, as much as you can so that you don't spread the illness. If you or your child has rubella, don't go to work, school, or day care for 7 days after the rash first
are exposed to the rubella virus while you're pregnant, talk to your doctor. He or she may
give you a shot of
immunoglobulin (IG) if testing shows that you are not immune. IG doesn't prevent infection, but it may make symptoms less
severe. It also lowers the chance of birth defects, although it doesn't always prevent them. Children with congenital rubella syndrome have been
born to mothers who have received IG.