Rubella, also called German measles or three-day measles, is an infectious viral disease which is distinguished by a characteristic red rash. Most people experience minor or no symptoms from this infection. However, it can pose severe problems for newborn babies if their mothers become infected during pregnancy.

Rubella and measles are not the same, but both diseases share the same symptoms and indications, such as a red rash. A different virus causes rubella; thus, it is not as infectious or severe as measles. The measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccines are both safe and effective in preventing rubella, and immunization can protect against rubella for life.


Rubella symptoms are usually difficult to detect, especially in children. Signs and symptoms usually occur two to three weeks after being exposed to the virus, and they usually last 1 to 5 days and may include:

When to see a doctor?

Consult the doctor immediately if you notice any symptoms or signs indicating rubella. If you are considering getting pregnant, check your vaccination history to confirm that you have had the MMR vaccine. If you get rubella while expecting, especially in the first trimester, the virus may harm the fetus or result in severe birth abnormalities. Congenital deafness is most commonly caused by rubella during pregnancy. It is best to get your rubella vaccination before becoming pregnant.

You'll almost likely be tested for rubella immunity if you're pregnant. However, contact your doctor if you have never had the vaccine and feel you have been exposed to rubella. A blood test may confirm that you are already immune.


The virus that causes rubella is spread from person to person. The virus spreads when an infected individual coughs or sneezes. Direct contact with contaminated mucous from the nose and throat might also spread it. It can also be transmitted through the bloodstream from pregnant women to their unborn babies.

A person with rubella is infectious for about one week before the rash appears and until the rash disappears. An infected person can spread the sickness before the person realizes they are infected. Rubella is rare in many nations because most children are immunized against it at an early age. The virus is still active in several areas of the world. This is important to consider before traveling abroad, especially if you're pregnant.


Rubella is a mild infection and it may cause arthritis in the fingers, wrists, and knees, which usually lasts around a month. Rubella can cause ear infections or brain inflammation in rare cases.

However, if individuals have rubella while pregnant, the complications for the unborn child can be severe and, in some cases, fatal. Congenital rubella syndrome affects up to 90% of babies born to mothers with rubella during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. This syndrome can result in one or more of the following problems:

  • Cataracts
  • Growth delays
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Deafness
  • Problems with other organ development
  • Mental development and learning difficulties

The first trimester of pregnancy is when the fetus is most at risk, but exposure later in pregnancy is also dangerous.


The rubella rash can resemble various other viral rashes. As a result, lab testing is usually done to confirm rubella infection. A virus culture or a blood test may be performed to determine the presence of several rubella antibodies in the blood. These antibodies indicate whether you've had a recent or previous infection and a rubella vaccine.


There is no treatment that can shorten the course of rubella infection, and symptoms are rarely severe enough for need of any treatment. However, healthcare providers usually advocate isolation from others during the infectious period, especially for pregnant women. Isolate yourself from others as soon as rubella is suspected and for at least seven days after the rash has disappeared.

The support provided to a newborn born with congenital rubella syndrome varies according to the severity. Children with various issues may require early care from a team of neonatologists, pediatricians and other specialists.

Lifestyle and home remedies

Simple self-care actions are required when a child or adult is infected with the rubella virus, such as bed rest and medication to relieve fever and aches.

When giving aspirin to children or teenagers, use it with caution. Although aspirin is safe to use in children above the age of three, it should never be given to kids or teenagers who are experiencing flu-like symptoms or chicken pox. Aspirin is also linked to Reye's syndrome in children, a rare but potentially fatal condition. As a safer alternative to aspirin, consider giving the child over-the-counter fever and pain medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

Dos and Don’ts

A person with rubella has to follow a proper diet. Taking adequate care is crucial to managing this condition and other medical treatments. Follow these do's and don'ts in the diet-

Do’s Don’ts
Get vaccinated against rubella (MMR vaccine) Avoid taking MMR vaccine
If you are infected, isolate yourself. Avoid close contact with infected people Miss taking your medications
Get proper rest Travel to rubella-infested countries or areas
Don’t share personal items like utensils, cups Take alcohol and smoking

Rubella Care at Medicover Hospitals

We have the most trusted healthcare team at Medicover hospitals, comprising of general physicians and infectious disease specialists, to deliver the best management of Rubella disease. We are working to give our patients excellent healthcare in a holistic way. With the active engagement of healthcare specialists from different specialties, our team takes a multi-faceted approach to manage rubella disease and other infectious disorders. We deliver world-class healthcare services, resulting in high treatment outcomes and satisfactory patient experiences.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Rubella and its symptoms?

Rubella is a contagious virus-borne disease. Most rubella cases are mild, with symptoms such as a low-grade fever, sore throat, and a rash that starts with the face and eventually spreads to other body parts.

Who is at the highest risk for rubella?

Rubella is highly harmful to a pregnant mother and her unborn child. Anyone who has not been vaccinated against rubella is at risk of contracting the disease.

What happens if rubella is left untreated?

Rubella can cause arthritis in up to 70% of women; it is uncommon in children and men. Rubella can cause major complications in rare cases, including brain infections and bleeding issues.

Who should not get the rubella vaccine?

The MMR vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women as a precaution, and you should also wait one month after receiving the MMR immunization before becoming pregnant. It is best to inform the doctor if you received the MMR vaccine while pregnant.

Is rubella serious in adults?

Rubella is often moderate in children and more severe but not fatal in adults. However, a rubella infection in a pregnant woman might have severe consequences for the unborn child.

What is the age limit for the rubella vaccine?

The first dose of MMR is given to children aged 12 months to 10 years. The second dose of MMR is suggested any time before the age of 6 years (elementary school entry 4-6 years), and the measles and rubella vaccines are recommended.

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