Mild fever, swollen lymph glands, and a red, blotchy rash are some of the possible symptoms of rubella. Not everyone who becomes infected with the rubella virus will develop symptoms, however. Because other diseases can share the same signs as rubella, anyone with possible symptoms should be properly diagnosed and treated by a doctor.
When a person becomes infected with the rubella virus, the virus begins to multiply within the cells that line the back of the throat and nose. After 14 to 21 days, early rubella symptoms can appear. This period between the transmission of rubella and the start of symptoms is called the "rubella incubation period."
About one half of people infected with the rubella virus don't develop symptoms.
Rubella symptoms that are the same in both adults and children include:
- Mild fever
- Swollen lymph glands behind the ears and/or neck.
In adults, other early symptoms may occur one to seven days before the rubella rash appears. These include:
In children, the rubella rash may be the first symptom.
These early symptoms usually last three to four days -- although it can be as short as one day and as long as eight days before the rubella rash appears.
The rubella rash is a red, blotchy rash that lasts one to five days. In most cases, it lasts three days, which is how rubella got its other name: "three-day measles" (see Rubella Pictures). The rubella rash is lighter in color than the measles rash. It begins at the hairline and then spreads to the face and upper neck. The rash gradually moves downward and outward, reaching the hands and feet.