Rubella (German Measles): Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Medically Reviewed on 3/18/2019

Infection with a virus causes rubella, a contagious disease. German measles is another name for rubella. While rubella virus infection typically causes a mild illness, it can lead to birth defects in the unborn baby if a pregnant woman becomes infected. People also sometimes refer to the illness as three-day measles, and it's not as severe as measles (rubeola, which is the result of infection with a different virus).

Rubella virus infection does not always cause symptoms or signs. When signs and symptoms associated with rubella virus do occur, these usually include low-grade fever and rash. Other symptoms and signs can include swollen or enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, runny nose or nasal congestion, cough, malaise, and headache.

Cause of German measles

Infection with the rubella virus causes rubella, or German measles. The infection spreads via fluid infected with the virus (for example, through coughing, sneezing, or sharing drinks or food with an infected person).


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/18/2019

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