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Rubella is a mild disease in children but can be more severe in teenagers and adults. Rubella is much less common since routine immunization of children against rubella began.

Rubella during pregnancy can result in miscarriage, death of the fetus or severe abnormalities in the baby (congenital rubella syndrome).

After someone catches rubella it can take from 2 to 3 weeks for signs of the disease to appear. Some children with rubella will have no signs of rubella. Rubella usually lasts about 3 days.

The signs of rubella are:

  • a red or pink rash that begins on the face and spreads down the body
  • swollen glands behind the ears
  • slight fever
  • pain in the joints

How is rubella spread?

Rubella is spread by contact with droplets coughed, sneezed or breathed into the air by someone with rubella, or by contact with the saliva of someone with rubella.

Rubella is catching for seven days before the rash appears and up to 7 days after the rash first appears.

Children with rubella should not go to the child care centre or school until at least seven days after the rash appears and only when they feel well enough to take part in activities.

Children who have been in contact with someone with rubella and who have not been immunized against rubella, should not go to the child care centre or school until they are immunized or until the Medical Health Officer says it is safe for them to return.

Rubella is a vaccine-preventable disease.

Rubella vaccine is free to healthy children aged one year and older as part of routine immunization. It is given in a shot with a vaccine against mumps and measles (MMR). MMR vaccine is also provided to older children and adults who haven't had rubella or rubella vaccine.


What to do at home

  • Ensure your child has the MMR vaccine when it is offered as part of routine vaccination.
  • If another child has rubella and your child has not had the MMR vaccine, ask your doctor or Public Health Nurse to give your child the vaccine.
  • Tell the caregivers at the child care centre or school if your child gets rubella.
  • Talk to your doctor or Public Health Nurse if you have questions about rubella.
  • Wash your hands often when looking after a child with rubella and always before preparing and eating food.

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