Rubella is a viral infectious disease that is transmitted by droplets (coughing, sneezing, etc.).


Rubella is a viral infectious disease that is transmitted by droplets (coughing, sneezing, etc.). It is most often caught between the ages of 5 and 9. Rubella is therefore classed as a childhood disease, but can occur at any age. The disease presents with a skin rash that starts behind the ears before spreading to the rest of the body. It is accompanied by fever and swollen lymph nodes.



  • Incubation period: 2-3 weeks
  • In spite of having caught the disease, children are often asymptomatic (approx. 50% of cases)

Typical symptoms

  • Slight impairment of general health
    • Mild progression is usual (the younger, the milder)
  • Reddened eyes (conjunctivitis)
  • Runny nose
  • Headaches and joint pain
  • Slight fever
  • Swollen and painful lymph nodes (neck and behind the ears)
  • Skin rash
    • Starts behind the ears
    • Spreads to the rest of the body
    • Flat or slightly raised spots, unconnected
    • Red or pale
    • Itching
    • Rash disappears after approx. 4 days

Risk groups

  • Pregnant women who have never had rubella or a rubella vaccination
    • Risk of congenital rubella syndrome (birth defects in unborn child)
  • Immunocompromised persons (cancer, autoimmune disorders, AIDS)
  • Older people


Causes and treatment


  • Pathogen: rubella virus
  • Transmission
    • Droplet infection (coughing, sneezing, surfaces, etc.)
    • Mother to unborn child (via placenta)

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Physical examination
  • Blood test
  • Search for pathogen, if necessary
    • Symptoms aren't always clear
    • E.g. to assess risk for pregnant women
Possible therapies
  • Treatment of symptoms
    • Painkillers and fever-reducing medication
    • Anti-itching cream/lotion

What can I do myself?

  • Childhood rubella vaccination
  • Fever
  • Itching
    • Cooling compresses (quark, yoghurt)
  • If patient still wants children: check vaccination status (get rubella vaccination, if necessary)
  • Pregnancy: avoid contact with persons who have or are suspected to have rubella

When to see a doctor?

Further information

Federal Office of Public Health, FOPH (Bundesamt für Gesundheit, BAG)


rubella, third disease, German measles

Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.