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What is rubella?

Rubella, or German measles, is an infection caused by a virus. Rubella is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

What are the signs and symptoms of rubella?

  • Fever, runny nose, or sore throat
  • Headache or muscle aches
  • Red, inflamed eyes
  • Swollen, tender glands at the back of the neck and ears
  • Rash that starts on the face and spreads down the body toward the toes
  • Joint aches and pain

How is rubella diagnosed?

Your caregiver may be able to diagnose rubella based on your symptoms and physical exam. You may need a blood test to confirm the infection.

How is rubella treated?

  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children under 6 months of age without direction from your child's healthcare provider.
  • MMR vaccine helps prevent measles, mumps, and rubella. Adults who have never received the vaccine may need at least 1 dose. A second dose may be needed for those at a higher risk for measles, mumps, or rubella.

What are the risks of rubella?

You may have joint pain and swelling. Your testicles may be inflamed. The infection may spread to your brain and cause it to swell, which can be life-threatening. Rubella can cause severe birth defects during pregnancy, especially during the first 3 months. These include deafness or damage to the baby's eyes, heart, brain, or nerves.

How can I manage my symptoms?

  • Rest: Rest as much as possible until you feel better.
  • Drink extra liquids: This will help prevent dehydration. Ask how much you should drink each day. Healthy liquids include water, juice, and milk. Limit the amount of caffeine you drink.
  • Eat a variety of healthy foods: Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. This will help you feel better and give you more energy.
  • Avoid the spread of germs: Stay away from others, especially anyone who is pregnant, or who has not had the MMR vaccine. Keep your child home from school or daycare for 7 days after the rash appears.

Where can I find more information?

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    1600 Clifton Road
    Atlanta , GA 30333
    Phone: 1- 800 - 232-4636
    Web Address:

When should I contact my caregiver?

Contact your caregiver if:

  • Your rash starts to itch.
  • You have joint pain and swelling, even after treatment.
  • Your testicles are inflamed.
  • You are pregnant and think you might have rubella.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care?

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You are confused or have a seizure.
  • You have a severe headache.
  • You have trouble breathing.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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