Public Health Fact Sheet

What is Rubella?
Rubella, also known as German Measles, is a contagious disease caused by a virus. The disease most frequently affects school-aged children and young adults. The peak incidence of infection is during late winter and early spring. Rubella infection during pregnancy can result in miscarriage, fetal death or birth defects.

How is Rubella spread?
The virus is spread by direct contact with droplets expelled into the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

How long after exposure until symptoms begin and how long is a person contagious?
Symptoms usually begin 16-18 days after exposure.  The virus can be transmitted to others seven days before rash onset until seven days after rash onset.

How is Rubella treated?
There is no specific treatment or cure for Rubella.  Doctors may recommend medication to control fever and discomfort.  Adequate rest and fluid intake can be helpful. Please note, children with a viral illness should not receive salicylates (such as aspirin) because of the risk of developing Reye syndrome.

How can Rubella be prevented?
Rubella is a vaccine preventable disease. The best way to protect against Rubella is to be vaccinated.  Two doses of MMR vaccine is  recommended. It is important that women of childbearing age know if they are protected against rubella. 

Additional information is available on the CDC website at
Symptoms of Rubella

  • Swelling of lymph glands (especially those in back of neck)
  • Temporary joint pain and swelling
  • Rash (starts on face, becomes generalized and lasts about 3 days)
  • Fatigue
  • Fever

February 2020