Rubella is a mild but very contagious viral illness. Other names for rubella are German measles and three-day measles.
Rubella has a worldwide distribution with seasonal peaks during spring and summer.
People get rubella by breathing in droplets that get into the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. Rubella can also spread by direct contact with fluids from the nose or throat of an infected person.
Rubella can can also pass through a pregnant woman's bloodstream to infect her unborn child. As this is a generally mild disease in children, the primary medical danger of rubella is the infection of pregnant women, which may cause congenital rubella syndrome in developing babies.
In most cases, symptoms appear within 16 to 18 days. Diagnosis is by blood test or virus culture. Anyone can get rubella, but unvaccinated, school-aged children are most at risk.