Rubella - also known as German measles - is a contagious viral infection that causes a red rash. Despite being called German measles, or three-day measles, rubella is caused by a different virus than the one that results in a measles outbreak. Rubella is very contagious but very rare in most countries where children receive a vaccination at an early age. The MMR vaccine (mumps-measles-rubella) is extremely effective in preventing rubella and is highly recommended for children before starting school.
- A red rash that begins on the face and neck and spreads to the rest of the body
- Mild fever (around 102 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Redness or inflammation around the eyes
- Swollen, tender lymph nodes
- Joint pain (especially common in young women)
Rubella is generally milder than measles. Fewer than 10 cases of the disease are reported every year, and most individuals are immune to the disease once they’ve had it once.
If you suspect that you or your child has contracted rubella, talk to your health care provider. Rubella is commonly diagnosed through blood tests. If you are pregnant and suspect that you may have rubella, seek medical attention immediately. Complications of rubella infection during pregnancy can cause serious - sometimes fatal - complications for an unborn fetus. Because of this, it is strongly recommended that women become fully vaccinated against rubella at least four weeks before becoming pregnant.
Vaccination is the best method to prevent a rubella infection. The MMR vaccine is usually given to children aged between 12-15 months old, with a second dose usually administered between 4-6 years of age prior to schooling.
Below are common treatment options for rubella. During your appointment, talk to your health care provider about the treatment plan that is right for you.
Most cases of rubella are mild and can be treated at home with self-care treatment. Because rubella is extremely contagious for individuals who are not vaccinated, it is crucial that you or your child stay home and cease daily routines until fever symptoms have disappeared for a day or two.
Bed rest and pain relievers are the best methods for reducing fever and encouraging recovery while dealing with a rubella infection. Avoid strenuous activity and drink plenty of fluids to maintain hydration levels, while taking acetaminophen (Tylenol) to manage fever. Rubella usually passes within a week, even if the rash still exists. Wait until you or your child has had a normal temperature for a day or two before resuming your regular routine.