Rubella (also known as german measles) is a viral infection that used to be common in children. Rubella is usually a mild infection. It can be fatal usually with minimal systemic upset although transient arthropathy may occur in adults. Serious complications such as deterioration of the skin is very rare. Apart from the effects of transplacental infection on the developing fetus, rubella is a relatively trivial infection.

Acquired (i.e. not congenital) rubella is transmitted via airborne droplet emission from the upper respiratory tract of active cases (can be passed along by the breath of people sick from Rubella). The virus may also be present in the urine, feces and on the skin.


Incubation period is for 2-3 weeks. Symptoms include:

  • Flu like symptoms
  • Dry red-pink rash
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • High temperature


Rubella is caused by the rubella virus (toga virus). The virus is spread through air by droplets from infected person to uninfected person.


Blood test:

Blood is tested for antibodies like:

  • The IgM antibody will be present for new rubella infection.
  • The IgG antibody will be present for the rubella infection in the past, or have been immunized against it.
  • If neither antibody is present, then there is no  rubella infection and there is no immunization against it.


Symptomatic treatment is generally provided. Ibuprofen/ paracetamol are generally administered to relieve pain and fever. Patients are advised to drink plenty of fluids.

Congenital rubella syndrome (CRS)

Congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) can cause the following problems in unborn babies:

  • Cataract (cloudy patches in the lens of the eye) and other eye defects
  • Deafness
  • Congenital heart disease (where the heart does not develop in the right way)
  • A small head compared with the rest of the body, as the brain is not fully developed
  • A slower than normal growth rate
  • Damage to the brain, liver, lungs or bone marrow


Rubella is to be immunized with the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.The immunization for measles includes 2 doses wherein the first dose should be given between 12-15 months of age followed by the second dose after an interval of 4 weeks, usually up to 4-6 years.


  • LAST UPDATED ON : Feb 04, 2016


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