Rubella: how it is recognized and how it is treated

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La rubella is a viral exanthematous infectious disease caused by a virus of the Rubivirus family. It mostly affects children, especially between 5 and 14 years, and usually manifests itself mildly. To be clear, it is much lighter than measles. However, if it is contracted during pregnancy, and particularly in the first few months, it can be very dangerous for the fetus, because there is a risk of serious malformations. As a rule does not come back a second time: this means that getting sick confers protection against subsequent infections. Let's see what the symptoms of rubella are and how to treat it.

In this article

  • Symptoms of rubella
  • How it is transmitted and when it is contagious
  • How rubella is treated
  • How rubella is prevented
  • risks
  • Rubella in pregnancy

Symptoms of rubella

Symptoms can be very mild and it is estimated that up to 50% of infections have no apparent symptoms. In general, however, the most characteristic symptoms are two, and they manifest themselves two to three weeks after contact with the virus (incubation period). It is about:

  • skin rash, with small pink and flat spots, which appear initially behind the ears, then on the forehead, face and neck, to finally extend to the rest of the body. The specks usually remain for 2-3 days, then disappear.
  • swelling of the lymph nodes - what we usually call "glands" - at the base of the nape, at the back of the neck and behind the ears.

In addition, there may be fever - usually not very high - headache, sore throat, cold, red and watery eyes, joint pain, more frequent in adults and especially in women. All symptoms that may occur usually last a few days: only the lymph nodes may remain swollen for several weeks.

How it is transmitted and when it is contagious

Rubella is transmitted through droplets of saliva emitted by coughing, sneezing or just talking. The period of contagiousness goes from a few days before to a few days after the appearance of the spots. For this, affected children should return to school or kindergarten starting 7 days after the appearance of the spots.

How rubella is treated

There are no specific therapies and symptoms usually go away on their own within 7-10 days. It is certainly a good idea to keep the baby at rest, even in bed if necessary. In case of fever, severe malaise or joint pain, the pediatrician can prescribe antifebrile and painkillers, especially paracetamol or ibuprofen.


Rubella in children: photos to recognize it

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Rubella is a viral infectious disease with a measles-like rash. It consists of pink, flat spots, which usually cover the whole body the first ...

How rubella is prevented

The only effective preventive strategy is the vaccination. The rubella vaccine exists in a combined form with the measles and mumps (MMR) vaccine. The vaccination schedule includes two administrations of this vaccine: a first dose at 12-15 months and a second dose at 5-6 years.

From 2022 rubella vaccine is one of them required by law for children and teenagers from 0 to 16 years.


Le complications of rubella they are rare and mainly concern adults: it is mainly the appearance of other infections - some even serious - such as otitis and encephalitis.

Read also: Compulsory and voluntary vaccinations. The calendar

Rubella in pregnancy

The real problem with rubella occurs when this disease is contracted during pregnancy, because the effects on the fetus and embryo can be very serious, particularly if the infection occurs in the first few months.

In the case of pregnant women, the virus is able to cross the placenta and can thus be transmitted to the embryo or fetus.

In this case, the risk of miscarriage and fetal death increases. It also increases the child's risk of developing so-called congenital rubella syndrome, which can involve vision defects, deafness, heart defects and mental retardation. The risk of severe malformations is significantly reduced after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

A newborn who becomes infected during pregnancy remains contagious for several months.

The vaccine is also highly recommended for women who wish to become pregnant and have never contracted the disease.


  • information material on the Vaccinarsì website;
  • information material from the National Health Service, the English health service;
  • information material from Medline Plus, the American National Library of Medicine;
  • information material from Epicentro, a portal by the National Center for epidemiology, surveillance and health promotion.

  • exanthematous diseases
  • rubella
  • rubella incubation
  • rubella cure
  • infectious diseases
  • rubella symptoms
  • 3-5 children years
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