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Rubella (German Measles)

What is it?

A virus that causes fever and rash on the face and neck. It can lead to miscarriage or birth defects during pregnancy.


In children, rubella usually causes the following symptoms that last two or three days:

  • Rash that starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body
  • Low fever (less than 101 degrees)

Before the rash appears, older children and adults may also have:

  • Swollen glands
  • Cough, runny nose, and redness or swelling of the white of the eye
  • Aching joints (especially in young women)

About half of the people who get rubella do not have symptoms.

How does it spread?

When an infected person coughs or sneezes near you, or by touching infected fluid and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.


One dose at these ages
12-15 months
4-6 years

Before the availability of rubella vaccines in the United States, rubella was a common disease that occurred primarily among young children. The last major epidemic in the United States occurred during 1964 to 1965, when there were an estimated 12.5 million rubella cases. Because of successful vaccination programs, rubella has been eliminated from the United States since 2004. However, rubella is still common in other countries. Unvaccinated people can get rubella while abroad and bring the disease to the United States and spread it to others.