Rubella is a viral infection that is now rare. The condition usually clears up in 7 to 10 days and treatment of symptoms will relieve discomfort.
- a red-pink skin rash made up of small spots
- swollen glands around the head and neck
- a high temperature (fever)
- cold-like symptoms such as a cough and runny nose
- aching and painful joints – more common in adults The symptoms of rubella usually only last a few days, but your glands may be swollen for several weeks.
When you visit your GP
You should always contact your GP if you suspect rubella. Do not visit your GP surgery without phoning first, as arrangements may need to be made to reduce the risk of infecting others. If you’re pregnant and develop a rash or come into contact with someone who has a rash, contact your GP or midwife immediately.
How Rubella is Spread
Rubella is spread in a similar way to a cold or flu, through droplets of moisture from the nose or throat of someone who’s infected. These droplets are released into the air when someone coughs, sneezes or talks.
You can become infected if you come into contact with the droplets from an infected person, although it can take two to three weeks for symptoms to develop. If you have rubella, you’ll be infectious to other people from one week before symptoms develop, and for up to four days after the rash first appeared.
You should stay away from school or work for four days after the rash starts to avoid infecting others and try to avoid contact with pregnant women during this time.
The best way to prevent rubella is to be immunised with the MMR vaccine. The first MMR vaccination is given to children at 12 months by their GP. A second dose is given to children aged 4-5 years. Measles, mumps and rubella can have serious complications, which is why it is important that your child is vaccinated against them.
There’s no specific treatment for rubella, but symptoms normally pass within 7 to 10 days. If you or your child are finding the symptoms uncomfortable, you can treat at home while you wait for the infection to pass.
For example, paracetamol or ibuprofen can be used to reduce the fever and treat any aches or pains. Liquid infant paracetamol can be used for young children. Aspirin shouldn’t be given to children under the age of 16 years.