Rubella, sometimes called “German measles,” is a disease caused by a virus. The infection is usually mild with fever and rash, but if a pregnant woman gets infected, the virus can cause serious birth defects. The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine protects against rubella.
In children, rubella usually causes a low-grade fever (less than 101 degrees) and a rash that starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body. These symptoms may last two or three days. Older children with rubella usually first suffer from low-grade fever, swollen glands in the neck or behind the ears, and upper respiratory infection, before they develop a rash. Rubella is usually mild in children.
Rubella spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes and touches objects or surfaces with unwashed hands. The disease is most contagious when the infected person has a rash. But it can spread up to seven days before the rash appears and up to seven days after. People without symptoms can still spread rubella.
The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine can help prevent rubella. Two doses of the vaccine are recommended.
The first dose of MMR vaccine is usually given at age 12-15 months; the second dose is given at age 4-6 years.
Updated June 2020
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention