What is Rubella and How is it Contracted?

Rubella, commonly known as German measles or 3-day measles, is a contagious viral infection caused by the rubella virus. Rubella is transmitted by droplets from the nose or throat that are spread by others breathing in the air or by close contact with an infected person. Rubella is especially dangerous for pregnant women.

HeadHow Rubella can Affect Pregnant Women

When acquired during pregnancy, if the fetus becomes infected in the first trimester of pregnancy, defects are likely to occur. The rubella virus can lead to fetal demise, cataracts, microcephaly, congenital heart defects, malformation, deafness, and mental retardation. For this reason, the federal government, and many states support programs to immunize women against rubella before they have children. There has been a resurgence of congenital rubella since the early 1990s and more widespread rubella serology is recommended.

Rubella Symptoms

Most people who get rubella usually have a mild illness, with symptoms that can include a rash that begins on the face and spreads downward on the body (lasting up to 3 days), a low-grade fever, headache, swollen glands in the back of the neck or behind the ears, malaise, runny nose, muscle or joint pain, inflammation of the eyes (mild pink eye), sore throat, and bruising (rare; resulting from a low platelet count). Individuals are most contagious from one week prior to the onset of the rash to one week after the rash appears.


The ASI Rubella Test is a rapid latex particle agglutination test for the qualitative and semiquantitative determination of rubella virus antibodies in serum. The role of serologic testing for antibodies to rubella is different in different clinical settings. The simplest and most straight forward application is in assessment of immunity. This test can also be used to determine recent or active rubella infection.

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