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Definition | Causes | Risk Factors | Symptoms | Diagnosis | Treatment | Prevention


Rubella is an upper respiratory infection most known for its red rash.

Rubella Rash

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Rubella is caused by a virus. The virus is passed from person to person through tiny droplets in the air.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your risk of rubella include:

  • Never having the condition
  • Never receiving an immunization for rubella


Many people with rubella do not have symptoms. In those who do have them, symptoms are usually mild and include:

  • Red, spotty rash all over the body
  • Fatigue, low energy, and discomfort
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Flushed face
  • Red throat that is not sore
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Achy joints and arthritis , especially in adults

Upper respiratory symptoms and fatigue occur first, followed by the rash.

Babies whose mothers have rubella during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester, can be born with severe birth defects known as congenital rubella syndrome , which can cause:


You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Rubella is confirmed by blood tests.


There is no treatment for rubella. To help make you more comfortable, your doctor may advise acetaminophen.


The rubella vaccine is often given as a combination vaccine with:

The regular schedule for giving the vaccine is at age 12-15 months and again at age 4-6 years of age. If you or your child has never been vaccinated against rubella, talk to the doctor.

Women who are not sure if they have been vaccinated should be tested. This is important if they are in occupations with high risk of exposure to rubella, such as:

  • Healthcare workers
  • Teachers
  • Childcare workers




  • Rubella. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated June 8, 2015. Accessed June 10, 2015.
  • Rubella. World Health Organization website. Available at: Updated November 2014. Accessed June 10, 2015.
  • Rubella (German measles, three-day measles). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: Updated May 4, 2015. Accessed June 10, 2015.
  • Rubella (German measles). Nemours Kids Health website. Available at: Updated January 2015. Accessed June 10, 2015.
  • Rubella (German measles or three-day measles). New York State Department of Health website. Available at: Updated January 2012. Accessed June 10, 2015.

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