Rubella is usually a mild viral disease. However, rubella is a concern for pregnant women, especially early in the pregnancy as it can cause serious harm to the developing baby.

The symptoms of rubella are fever, a general body rash and aching joints (mostly in adults).The first sign may be swollen glands usually behind the ears followed by a rash consisting of pink isolated spots.

Rubella is spread by coughing and sneezing. It can be difficult to distinguish from other viral illnesses. A blood test is the only reliable way to diagnose rubella. If a person has been exposed to rubella, it usually takes 16–18 days before they get sick.

A person with Rubella is infectious from seven days before the rash appears until at least four days after.


Rubella is a vaccine preventable disease. The vaccine is usually given at 15 months and 4 years. All children are eligible for free vaccination.

All women should be tested for rubella antibodies during the antenatal period.  Women who don’t have adequate levels of protective antibodies should be offered MMR vaccination (this is free) after delivery, unless they have already received two documented doses of rubella-containing vaccine prior.

Further information

More information on rubella is available at:


Last updated 12 April 2022.