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

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

Risk Factors

Things that may raise your risk are:

  • Never having rubella before
  • Never getting a shot to block rubella


Many people do not have symptoms. They are mild in those who do, such as:

  • Red, spotty rash all over the body which starts on the face 14-18 days after being around the virus
  • Feeling tired
  • Swollen glands
  • Reddened face
  • Red throat that is not sore
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Achy joints and arthritis, common in adults and may last for a month or more

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

If a mother has rubella during the first 3 months, the baby may be miscarried or stillborn. Or they may be born with severe birth defects known as congenital rubella syndrome. This can cause:


You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. Blood tests will be done.


There is no treatment. Pain relievers may help ease pain.


The shot is often given with:

It is given at age 12 to 15 months and again at age 4 to 6 years of age. If you or your child hasn’t been vaccinated, talk to the doctor.

Women who aren’t sure if they have been vaccinated should be tested. This is critical if they have high risk jobs, such as:

  • Healthcare workers
  • Teachers
  • Childcare workers

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Immunization Action Coalition


About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children

Public Health Agency of Canada


Rubella. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated May 14, 2018. Accessed July 19, 2018.

Rubella. World Health Organization website. Available at: Accessed July 19, 2018.

Rubella (German measles, three-day measles). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: Updated September 15, 2017. Accessed July 19, 2018.

Rubella (German measles). Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: Updated January 2015. Accessed July 19, 2019.

Rubella (German measles or three-day measles). New York State Department of Health website. Available at: Updated January 2012. Accessed July 19, 2018.

Woo EJ, Winiecki SK, et al. Adverse events after MMR or MMRV vaccine in infants under 9 months old. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2016 May 10.

Last reviewed May 2018 by James Cornell, MD  Last Updated: 7/18/2018