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Rubella or German Measles - Symptoms Complications and how to prevent It.

Updated on June 7, 2013

Rubella, also known as German measles, is an illness that is usually mild but in some cases can severely damage a developing fetus.

Most of the time it will only cause a mild rash, however, if you are pregnant then it can cause birth defects in the unborn baby. So it's a good idea to get immunized.

Try to keep away from anybody who has German measles while you are pregnant. its highly contagious and transmitted through airborne droplets from the coughs and sneezes of infected people.

Thanks to immunization, Rubella has become less common in the developed world.

My experience of German measles occurred when I was pregnant with my second baby. I stood near a bus stop and realised that a small child in a buggy was coughing and sneezing in my direction. Then I heard the mother state that the child had German measles. As you can imagine I was shocked, and to cut a long story short, I had a miscarriage. Whether this was caused by the child having Rubella I cannot say.

source BMA Medical Guide.

German measles
German measles | Source

What are the Symptoms?

The symptoms of Rubella usually appear from 2 to 3 weeks after infection and may include all or some of the following:

  • Swollen lymph nodes at the back of the neck and behind each ear. Sometimes the lymph nodes throughout the whole body are affected and swollen, including those in the armpits and groin.
  • After 2-3 days, a pink non itchy rash will appear. This usually starts on the face then spreads to the body. This will disappear after 3 days.
  • Children may suffer from a mild fever, but adolescents and adults can develop a high fever and headache.
  • Sometimes in a few cases, several joints may become inflamed for a short time.
  • A person who has Rubella or German measles will be infectious from about 7 days before the rash appears until about 5 days after the rash appeared.

Rubella German measles virus
Rubella German measles virus | Source


There are a few complications that must be looked out for. If you contract rubella in early pregnancy there is a risk of miscarriage.

I had German measles when I was two years old, and I was told that my fever and rash were so severe My mother stayed up night after night sponging me down to lower my temperature. However this didn't didn't give my unborn baby protection from the virus.

So when the doctor told me that it was possible that my miscarriage was caused by being to close to the baby with German measles, because the child was sneezing, it sadly didn't surprise me. There was never definite proof in my case, but the possibility was there.

If your baby is carried to full term he or she is at serious risk of being born with abnormalities, such as congenital deafness, congenital heart disease, and something called clouding of the eye or cataracts.

In some cases rubella can cause cerebral palsy.

To catch German measles in the first three months of pregnancy is serious, but even if you are in the later part of your pregnancy it can still cause complications.

Do you believe that immunization is important?

See results

How To Treat Rubella

There are so many viral infections out there that sometimes the doctor may not know straight away that it is in fact German measles. The rash itself is very much the same as others. Therefore the doctor will ask to do a blood test just for confirmation.

There's no specific treatment for the illness, each patient is slightly different all depending on how they react to the virus. But drinking plenty of cool fluids, and taking over the counter pain killers should, in most cases, be all you need. This will reduce fever and discomfort.

Most people tend to get better after about 10 days and the good thing is that it will give you lifelong immunity against the virus.

German measles and pregnancy
German measles and pregnancy | Source

Can it be Prevented?

Babies are routinely immunized against rubella, as part of the standard measles, mumps and and rubella immunization that is given at 12 - 15 months.

Then again between 3 and 4 years old. This should give long term immunity.

Women who are planning a pregnancy should be tested for antibodies against rubella and should always receive advice about the immunization process.

MMR Jab panic in South Wales


Rubella or MMR Immunization and Autism Connection.

Over the last few years there has been a lot of heated debates over whether the MMR or measles, mumps and rubella, especially rubella, has caused children to become autistic.

With the decline of mothers not giving their children the shot or jab, there has been an increase of German measles around the country.

Only recently in Wales we saw hundreds of parents taking their children to health centers on advice from doctors because there had been an increase of rubella making children ill.

All these children should have been immunized but were to frightened to risk their children's health, and were scared of autism.

So why Autism?

Rosemary Kessick' son is severely autistic. After receiving the MMR jab, William started to act strangely. He was fine before the shot.

Along with his behavioral change, he had really severe bowel problems.

The debate started after William had extensive tests. A Doctor Andrew Wakefield, who was carrying out the tests began to think that the MMR shot was in fact the cause of the autistic behavior and illness.

Since then there have been many tests by doctors. The outcome is that they can find no connection between the MMR and autism.

However, there are a small number of doctors who still claim that not all cases of the rubella - autism link cannot be dismissed.

For further reading and source: MMR and Autism BBC.


  • Always call a doctor if you child has a high temperature.
  • If the child has swollen lymph nodes then take him/her straight to the doctor as it could be rubella/German measles.
  • Keep the child indoors or within the garden. It can be dangerous for pregnant women to be near a child with measles.
  • Immunization is a must. The debate over autism has been sorted out. There is no connection between rubella and autism. In fact its more dangerous for the disease to spread and make small children ill. As seen recently in Wales UK.

Doctor Explains Rubella Complications


Even though I had German measles as a child, my doctor told me that because I had been near a baby with German measles there was a possibility that I would miscarry. I was three months pregnant at the time.

I became ill, slight flu like symptoms, and then I lost the baby. Of course the doctor could never really confirm that it was caused by being in contact with someone who had rubella, but it was too much of a coincidence to treat it otherwise.

I was not aware of the child's illness until the mother, who was standing right next to me, mentioned it to her friend. If you know your child is ill with German measles do not take the child out in public until it is free of the virus.

Please be aware that its not just your child who is suffering from the illness. You have to be certain that the child cannot infect pregnant women.

The infectious period starts well before the rash appears so it can't be helped if other children catch it, but once the rash appears its just common sense to keep the child indoors.

If Your Child Has German Measles Always Get Them Checked Out By A Doctor.

Disclaimer - I am not a qualified doctor. All information is taken from reliable sources.

I wanted to share my story to show the dangers of an infected person being to close to someone who is pregnant. And the following consequences.

(c) copyright nell rose


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    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      Hi Marina, I hope you find your support group, I live in England so I am not sure how to find out. have you looked on the internet? you should be able to find some help, maybe type in something like:

      rubella support group, something simple like that, and add your area too. Good luck.

    • profile image

      Marina 4 years ago

      Is there any support for some person suffering with congenital syndromes such as eyes,heart & hearing after myself had rubella before I knew that I was pregnant ,this happened 1957 but I did't know how serious this all would be, so is there any support groups here in the Gold Coast or near by. Request a reply please. Many thanks. Marina.

    • profile image

      Maoludin 4 years ago

      Natural Remedies for Measles in Children• Encourage bedrest and quiet avctiity, especially during the early stages. Isolate your child from others who may be at risk until the fifth day of rash.• Keep a cool-mist vaporizer in your child's room to help prevent breathing difficulties.• Give your child plenty of fluids, such as water, electrolyte replacement beverages (like Gatoraid), and juices (particularly orange and lemon) because a high fever and sweating can cause dehydration.• Encourage soft bland foods.• Give a sponge bath when your child's fever is high. Have your child sit in a bathtub with partially filled water (lukewarm) and gently sponge water over his or her neck and shoulders.• Another treatment for measles in children is keeping their eyes clean. Flush your child's eyes with a plain saline solution (available at drugstores). Using an eyedropper, put a few drops in the corner of each eye. If the eyes are crusty, wet a cotton ball with saline and gently wipe the eye, from the inside corner to the outside (use a different cotton ball when wiping the other eye). You may also want to dim the light in their room because their eyes can be sensitive to light.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi alocsin, there are measles and german measles, they are both pretty bad, thanks so much for reading, nell

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I remember getting the measles when younger -- was it this one? It seemed to be a common rite of passage in the Philippines in the 1960s. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Thanks so much Alicia, yes its really important as we found out in Wales recently, glad you liked it, nell

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I am so very sorry that you lost your baby, Nell. Thank you for warning parents that they should look out for possible symptoms of German measles in their children. It really is very important.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi mary, yes I believe in them too, especially after what happened recently in Wales, thanks so much as always, nell

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi Victoria, yes its difficult to decide, but I did vaccinate my son, thanks so much for reading, nell

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi Scout, we had over here got rid of it, then the whole thing about autism cropped up and people stopped vaccinating, hopefully it will sort itself out, glad to hear about Australia, thanks for reading, nell

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi teaches, thanks so much for reading, nell

      Hi moonlake, glad your friend was okay, but that was a good way of doing it, thanks so much for reading, nell

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      My child had rubella and I remember trying to figure out if it was measles. This article would have helped back then with all my questions.

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 5 years ago from America

      So sorry for your loss I know how sad it is to lose a baby from miscarriage. Our son had spots and I had no idea what it was but called the doctor. I had to take him in through the back door and right into a room. They thought it was measles and he had been near our pregnant friend but she was ok and far enough along. Voted up.

    • Que Scout profile image

      Stephen Hodgkinson 5 years ago from Sydney Australia

      Hi Nell

      It make me sad when I hear about kids being affected by immunization or contracting diseases like German Measles.

      If Australia has managed to eliminate German Measles it sounds possible other counties might too. Or are we just lucky in Australia.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      I'm sorry, too, about your loss. I've heard a lot about the vaccination debate, but I lean towards getting immunization. Funny, I had measles twice as a child, once a light case. I got over them just fine, though. I don't know when I had the vaccination. Maybe later.

      Great hub. Voted up, useful, awesome, interesting!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 5 years ago from Florida

      I have read that a lot of parents refuse to allow their children to be immunized because of their fear of autism. No one really knows for sure. My children all got their necessary shots because I believed in them, and still do.

      Very informative Hub. Voted UP and shared.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Thanks for the share Michelle, glad you liked it and, thanks!

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Wow, this was enlightening. Never knew that rubella had a connection to autism! Thanks for sharing, Nell.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi Genna, yes you may be right, our environment is so different from the past, people adapt, but sometimes they can't or don't, it makes me shudder to think of all the pollutants we have to put up with now, thanks!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi Deb, thanks so much, I think there is so much info for and against it that people just get confused, nell

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi kitty, thanks so much, yes its such an important thing to get vaccinated, glad you liked it, nell

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 5 years ago from Summerland

      Very well done article, Nell. Learned about this disease last semester in nursing school (last semester was focused on pediatrics). Very informative and concise. Blessings!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Nell, this is most likely why you miscarried. Kids are carriers for nearly everything under the sun, so for their own sake and those that are unhealthy, they really should stay indoors at home when ill Sadly, hindsight is 20-20. I hope that your article will save at least one baby.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Thank you for sharing your story, Nell. I am so sorry to hear of your experience. Parents with ill children should NEVER take them out where they can possible infect others. I see this too often, and it upsets me. Your research is meticulous and thoughtful, Nell, on this issue of the vaccine versus a possible autism connection. I’m no doctor or scientist, but I often wonder if our changing environments have anything to do with the increase in autism. Excellent hub, Nell.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Thanks Pamela, yes its very important that children get immunized, it was such a huge thing in Wales a few weeks ago, so many people taking their kids to get it done, and yes what with Nelson Mandela being seriously ill and Prince Philip, who knows what will happen? thanks so much for reading, nell

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 5 years ago from United States

      This hub is really important for anyone that have children. All my children were immunized and that was a long time ago. I had all of the typical childhood illnesses when I was young, but no real serious threats. I am sorry to hear of your miscarriage. I also hop Phillip pulls through this illness. Very good hub!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi Jackie, yes to be honest I was thinking that, I do think that if anything happens to Phillip, the Queen will probably step down and let Charles take over the throne. Then she would be the Queen Mother. I doubt if it will be yet though, nell

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 5 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Yes I am sure she will. I pray he goes in his sleep, at least that would be some comfort to her and there could be no better way to go, if we have to go. Yahoo keeps us up pretty much on your news.....

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi Hypno, that must have been horrible to have in your 30s, I know a friend of mine had it too, about the same age, she even got it in her mouth, it was a nightmare! thanks so much for reading, nell

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      HI Flourish, yes the whooping cough was a problem over here back in he winter, seems we have to much to think about these days, back in the day we would just have taken the shots without thought, thanks, nell

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi ChitrangadaSharan, yes vaccination is so important, imagine the illnesses still around if we didn't have it, thanks so much for reading, nell

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi christopher, yes that Doctor caused so much trouble, just watching the tv the other week proved that, thank goodness they got it in hand, thanks as always, nell

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi DDE, thanks so much for reading, nell

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi MsDora, that may well be true, maybe some new way of making it? that sounds feasible, I just hope its been sorted out now, in Wales it was a huge thing a few weeks ago, as you can see from the video, thanks so much for reading, nell

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Thanks btrbell, it was a long time ago, but I do remember it so well, standing by that bus stop and hearing the mother talk! funny how we remember it so well, thanks so much for reading, nell

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi Sue, yes that's so true, its more of the pregnant woman thing that needs watching, but yes I agree, thank goodness we were tiny and can't remember! lol!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi Jackie, yes me too, my mum kept me in, and refused to take us out till we were better. And yes poor old Phillip! he's 92 so its pretty bad, bet the Queen wouldn't know what to do without him. thanks Jackie, nell

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Thanks billy, you were so lucky you missed it, evidently I was a right mess at the time when I had it, thank goodness I can't remember being that small! thanks as always, nell

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Thanks billy, you were so lucky you missed it, evidently I was a right mess at the time when I had it, thank goodness I can't remember being that small! thanks as always, nell

    • CMHypno profile image

      CMHypno 5 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

      Hi Nell, interesting hub. Although I believe that immunisation against rubella is very important, it does not always give 100% protection, as I had the jab in my teens and still got German measles in my early thirties. So it is still a good idea for pregnant women not to be exposed to the disease even if they have had a jab.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 5 years ago from USA

      Nell, I am so sorry for your loss. It is important that people understand that their choice not to vaccinate has serious, important ramifications for both themselves and others. Lower vaccination rates have led to a resurgence of the whooping cough (pertussis) as well. So sad. Voted up, interesting, useful. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 5 years ago from New Delhi, India

      I have heard of German Measles. I wrote a hub sometime back on the importance of following Immunization schedule for small children. There is a vaccination meant for that in this program.

      I am sorry to hear about your loss. But you have done a great job here, by writing an informative hub on this subject, which will be very beneficial to many.

      Thanks for sharing!

    • christopheranton profile image

      Christopher Antony Meade 5 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

      I don't think I ever had German Measles, although I did have ordinary measles as a child. I think Doctor Wakefield should have been jailed. He caused a lot of problems.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Intresting and a learning expereince for me on this Hub, your research is mos thelpful here thnaks

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Thanks Vellur, it was a long time ago, but I still remember it vividly, thanks for reading, nell

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 5 years ago from The Caribbean

      I remember the disgusting feeling of measles during my childhood. Your article is very comprehensive. I really wonder if the link with the vaccine and autism is due to changes in the vaccine. What a choice for a parent to have to make! Voted Up and Useful.

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 5 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      What an important and valuable hub. Thank you for sharing your story and even though it was long ago, so sorry for your loss .

    • Sue Bailey profile image

      Susan Bailey 5 years ago from South Yorkshire, UK

      Way back when I was a child, parents used to take their children to play with their friends who had infectious diseases so they could catch it and 'get it over with'

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 5 years ago from The Beautiful South

      It is very thoughtless of a parent to take it out with "any" disease but especially one like this. We never were taken out sick and I had all the childhood diseases along with my four younger brothers and Mom babied us so it was almost fun to have a diseases. lol

      Heard about the Queen's husband. Bad news probably with his age huh? Am sorry to hear it.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Nasty stuff for sure, and happily I never had to deal with it. Great information here, Nell. Well done!

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 5 years ago from Dubai

      Sorry about your great loss, through this article you have ensured the safety of unborn children. Very useful and informative article, voted up.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi Anna, it was a very long time ago, but I can still feel the horror when I heard that woman say, 'sorry he's coughing so much, he has German measles!' its still not certain if it was that that caused the miscarriage but it was a bit of a coincidence to say the least. I do understand about the mmr jab, we just did it back then, but if it was now I wouldn't know what to do to be honest, maybe the same as you? thanks so much for reading, nell

    • Anna Haven profile image

      Anna Haven 5 years ago from Scotland

      I am sorry to hear about your baby Nell. I totally agree that immunisation is really important for us all. I opted out of the MMR for my children as I know more than one person whose child has developed problems after the immunisation.

      We paid a private clinic for single jags just in case. Which was a lot of money that we couldn't really afford. In an ideal world I think it would be better if the parent's had the choice through the NHS.

      An interesting article with very valid points.


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