Skip to main content

What are the complications of rubella?

Page last updated 28 April 2020

For most people rubella is a mild illness and they recover within about three days. 

However, possible complications of rubella include: 

  • lingering joint pain that may take a month or more to get better 
  • up to 70% of women who get rubella may experience arthritis; this is rare in children and men 
  • otitis media (inflammation of the middle ear)
  • encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), which can be fatal in some cases. 

If an unvaccinated pregnant woman becomes infected with rubella virus, she is at risk of having a miscarriage, or her baby may die shortly after birth – particularly if she is infected early in her pregnancy. The developing baby can also develop serious birth defects such as:

  • heart problems
  • loss of hearing and eyesight
  • intellectual disability
  • liver or spleen damage.

Sources & Citations

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

4. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Rubella complications. Available at: (accessed 19 March 2020).

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