Symptoms of rubella

Rubella symptoms take two to three weeks to develop after someone is infected with the virus. This time is called the incubation period.

During the incubation period some people may have a slightly raised temperature, conjunctivitis or feel as though they are getting a cold.

Most people, but not everyone, will develop a rash around 14 to 17 days after contact with the virus. They are infectious from one week before the symptoms appear until four days after the rash starts.

Swelling can appear behind the ears, below the skull at the back of your head and in your neck, caused by swollen lymph glands.

A high temperature of 38° (100.4°F) or more may also occur, possibly lasting for several days.

You should always contact your GP if you suspect that you or your child has rubella. Call them first rather than visiting the surgery as there may be pregnant women present.

While the condition is usually mild it is important that the diagnosis is confirmed by a doctor as the symptoms could be due to a more serious illness.

It is also important that any cases of rubella are reported to the relevant local health authorities so that they can track the spread of infection in the event of a sudden outbreak.

First published: Monday 21 May 2012
Updated: Tuesday 15 October 2013