Rubella (German Measles)

Rubella (German Measles)

What is Rubella (German Measles)?

Rubella (German measles) is a rare illness that causes a spotty rash that usually gets better in about 1 week. It can be serious if you get it when you are pregnant. It can be difficult to diagnose with certainty.

How is it spread?

Rubella spreads in coughs and sneezes.


The main symptom of rubella is a red or pink spotty rash that takes 2 to 3 weeks to appear. The rash starts behind the ears and spreads to the head, neck, and body. It may be hard to see on dark skin, but might feel rough or bumpy. Glands in your neck or behind your ears may appear swollen (lumpy).

Other symptoms of rubella include:

  • aching fingers, wrists or knees
  • a high temperature of 38C or above
  • coughs
  • sneezing and a runny nose
  • headaches
  • a sore throat
  • sore, red eyes



Rubella is very rare in pregnancy, but if you do get it when you are pregnant, there is a risk of miscarriage.  The risk is highest if you get rubella early in pregnancy.


Babies born to mums infected with rubella may have serious health problems with their sight, hearing, heart, or brain.


Rubella usually gets better in about 1 week.  Recommendations are to:

  • get plenty of rest
  • drink lots of fluids, like water or squash
  • take paracetamol or ibuprofen as prescribed

The MMR vaccine can prevent rubella; it also protects you from measles and mumps.

Preventing the spread

To reduce the risk of spreading or catching rubella, make sure to:

  • wash your hands often with soap and warm water
  • use tissues when you cough or sneeze
  • throw used tissues in the bin
  • avoid sharing cutlery, cups, towels, clothes, or bedding
  • keep children off nursery, school, or stay off work for 5 days after the rash appears
  • avoid close contact with pregnant women.

For further information, contact the Infection Prevention and Control Department at St Bernard’s Hospital
Telephone: 20072266 Ext 2315