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German Measles (Rubella)

German measles, or rubella, is a disease that has become rare in the United States because of the availability of the vaccine against this infection. The rubella vaccine became available in the late 1960s and since then, no major outbreaks of the disease have occurred. However, the infection has not been wiped out in other parts of the world.

German measles is caused by the rubella virus, which is not the same virus that causes measles. German measles occurs most often in the winter and spring. The disease is spread through close contact or through the air. People with German measles become contagious several days before symptoms begin. The contagious period lasts 5 to 7 days after symptoms appear.

Signs and Symptoms

Children with German measles have a low-grade fever (100°F–102°F or 37.8°C–38.9°C) along with a pink rash and swollen, tender glands at the back of the neck or behind the ears. The appearance of the rash can vary, but it usually begins on the face. Then it spreads to the neck, torso, arms, and legs and fades from the face as it moves to other parts of the body. Teenagers may have aching joints as well. These symptoms develop about 14 to 21 days after a child is infected with the virus.


What You Can Do

Make sure your child is kept comfortable. Give him fluids and encourage bed rest if he’s feeling tired.


Children with rubella should not attend school or child care for 7 days after their rash first appears.

When To Call Your Pediatrician

If your child has symptoms associated with German measles, such as a rash and fever, call your pediatrician. However, because the symptoms of German measles can be mild in children, parents may not even realize that their child has the infection. In fact, about 25% to 50% of children who have been infected with German measles have no symptoms at all.
Last Updated
Adapted from Immunizations and Infectious Diseases: An Informed Parents Guide (Copyright © 2006 American Academy of Pediatrics) and updated 2011
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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