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Is the rubella virus contagious?

Page last updated 28 April 2020

Rubella is highly contagious. It is spread from person to person during coughing or sneezing, or by direct contact with infectious people. 

Once infected, it can take around 14-21 days for the rash and joint pain to appear.  However, a person is infectious from 7 days before the onset of the rash and until at least 4 days after the rash appears. This means people infected with rubella could be out in the community, passing on the infection before they realise they have it.

Infants with congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) pass large quantities of the virus in their urine and faeces for up to a year and can therefore transmit rubella to those at risk, including those who are not immune to rubella or the people caring for them.

Sources & Citations

2. Victoria State Government. Better Health Channel. Rubella. Available at: (accessed 19 March 2020).

3. Australian Government. Department of Health. The Australian Immunisation Handbook – Rubella. Available at: (accessed 19 March 2020).

SPANZ.SAPAS.18.04.0138(1)a - Date of preparation April 2020