Rubella (german measles) is a viral infection that's now rare in the UK.It's usually a mild condition that gets better without treatment in 7 to 10 days.

Symptoms of rubella include:

  • 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.

It's 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 forfour days after the rash starts to avoid infecting others, and try to avoid contact with pregnant women during this time.

Who's affected?

Rubella is rare in the UKnowadays. Most cases occur in people who came to the UK from countries that don't offer routine immunisation against rubella.

However, there can occasionally be large outbreaks of rubella in the UK. One of these occurred in 1996, when there were almost 4,000 cases in England and Wales. There were12confirmed cases of rubellain England and Wales in 2013.

Treating rubella

There's no specific treatment for rubella, but symptoms normally pass within7 to 10 days. If you or your child are finding the symptoms uncomfortable, you can treat some of these 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.

Children are offered this vaccine as part of the routine childhood immunisation programme .

It's given in two doses the first when the child is one year old, followed by asecond booster dose before they start school, at three years and four months.

Routine vaccination isimportant because it reduces the risk of large outbreaks and helps protect pregnant women and their babies.

The MMR vaccinecan also be given to older children and adults who haven't been fully immunised before.

Contact your GP if you're uncertain whetheryouor your child are up-to-date withvaccinations.

If you're thinking of getting pregnantand you're not sure whether you've had two doses of the MMR vaccine, it's a good idea to check with your GP practice. If your records show you haven't had two doses of MMR or there's no record, ask for the vaccinations.

This helps scientists look for better ways to prevent and treat this condition. You can opt out of the register at any time.

Find out more about the register .

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 28 Nov 2016