Rubella is often spread through coughing or sneezing. It can also be transmitted when people put their fingers in their mouth or nose after touching an infected surface. Symptoms of rubella usually appear 14 to 21 days after rubella transmission.
Rubella (also known as German measles or three-day measles) is a contagious illness spread by coughing and sneezing. A person with rubella can transmit the virus anytime from about seven days prior to the onset of the rash to seven days after the onset. Even if rubella symptoms never develop, a person can spread rubella if he or she becomes infected with rubella virus.
The rubella virus resides in the mucus in the nose and throat of the infected person. When that person sneezes or coughs, droplets spray into the air. The infected mucus can land in other people's noses or throats when they breathe or put their fingers in their mouth or nose after touching an infected surface.
Following rubella transmission, a person does not immediately become sick. Once the rubella virus enters the body, it travels to the nose and back of the throat, where it begins to multiply. It can also travel to other parts of the body through the bloodstream and lymph system. After 14 to 21 days, symptoms of rubella can appear. This period between rubella transmission and the beginning of rubella symptoms is called the "rubella incubation period."