Synonyms: German measles, Three-day measles

Medical Specialties: Family practice, Internal medicine, Pediatrics

Clinical Definition

Rubella is an infectious, exanthematous disease caused by the rubivirus, a member of the togavirus family. It is characterized by a red rash and mild flu-like symptoms. The disease is usually mild in children and adults; in pregnant women, however, it can lead to fetal birth defects. Immunization is available to prevent rubella.

In Our Own Words

Rubella is a vaccine-preventable viral disease that usually causes mild illness, such as a rash. While rubella is generally not harmful to those who get the disease, it can cause pregnancy complications and health problems for the infant.


Congenital rubella syndrome (occurs when a fetus is infected with rubella while in the womb) can lead to hearing loss, mental retardation and other defects in infants. The infection is spread by contact with fluid droplets from the nose or mouth of an infected person. The incidence of rubella in the United States has dropped significantly since a vaccine has been made available.

Common Types
  • Congenital rubella syndrome
Side Effects
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  • University of Maryland Medical Center. “Rubella.” Updated May 2013. Accessed September 2013.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Rubella Disease In-Short (German Measles).” Accessed September 2013.
  • New York State Department of Health. “Rubella (German Measles or Three-Day Measles).” Updated January 2012. Accessed September 2013.
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