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Rubella, also known as “German Measles” or “three-day measles”, is an acute viral disease caused by rubella virus. Rash, swollen lymph and fever are its main symptoms. Infection during early pregnancy may result in a child born with congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) or miscarriage.

Source of infection

It has an incubation period of 2 to 3 weeks and can be transmitted by contact with secretions of infected persons through droplet spread or direct contact with patients. This is a highly infectious disease and the patient can pass the disease to other persons from 1 week before to 1 week after onset of rash. Susceptible ages are 5 to 15 years old but adults can also get infected.


This disease is often mild with half of people not realizing that they are infected. A rash may start around two weeks after exposure and last for three days. It usually starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body. Fever is usually not high. Swollen lymph is very common, especially behind ears and around neck, and may last for a few weeks even before the rash starts and after the rash disappears.


There is no effective medicine for rubella virus. Treatment shall be conducted according to each symptom. The most effective prevention is immunization with rubella-containing vaccine. Under the Hong Kong Childhood Immunization Program, children receive a two-dose course of rubella vaccination.