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Disease Information / Rubella


What is it

Rubella, also known as German measles, is a contagious viral infection that predominantly affects children and young adults. Complications from rubella are generally mild, however there can be dangerous consequences for babies born to women infected during the first trimester of pregnancy.1

Who is at risk and what are the symptoms

Pregnant women are most at risk because rubella can cause fetal death or defects known as congenital rubella syndrome (CRS). Unvaccinated children and young adults are also at risk. Rubella doesn't always display symptoms and goes unnoticed in up to half of cases. The most common symptoms are fever, conjunctivitis, swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck and rash appearing one to five days after the onset of these symptoms.1,2,

How is it spread

Rubella is spread from person to person through direct contact with or through the air breathed by an infected person.2

How is it prevented

Rubella is a vaccine preventable disease. In Australia, immunisation against rubella is recommended for children aged 12 months, with a second dose at 18 months. The rubella vaccine is often incorporated with the measles and mumps vaccines. Those children who did not receive their second vaccination at the age of 18 months will need to be vaccinated at the age of four years.3

How is it diagnosed and treated

Rubella is difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are similar to many other illnesses. Blood tests are required to confirm a diagnosis.2

Where to get help

Urgent medical advice is recommended for the onset of rubella-like symptoms. For further information regarding rubella vaccination please contact your healthcare professional.


  1. WHO:
  2. NSW Health:
  3. Immunise Australia: