Rubella is a catching disease, and its cause is a rubella virus. It is a very mild contagious disease and, in most children, it does not cause discomforts other than ordinary cold. The incubation lasts from 14 to 21 days.
In the first two days, a child has a slightly elevated temperature, and sometimes the swollen glands behind the ears and on the neck. The rash develops on the first or second day in the form of flat, reddish pink spots, 2 to 3 mm in diameter, which at first appear on the face and then spread rapidly over the body. The rash usually lasts only a day or two. All symptoms disappear on the fourth or fifth day.
Rubella is somewhat less common than measles, and the epidemics of that illness (e.g. in school, kindergarten, etc.) are less pronounced.
As with other contagious diseases in children, a dangerous complication – encephalitis – may occur even in the case of rubella, although it occurs only in 1 out of 6000 cases. Stiffness and swelling of the joints (see infectious arthritis) are more common complications, especially in adults. Since rubella is a mild disease, it does not require any special treatment. However, it is known that the disease causes damage to the fetus during pregnancy. So be sure to get in touch with any pregnant woman who has come into contact with a person suffering from rubella – either during the illness or within seven days after the appearance of the rash. If your child has rubella and you’re taking him to a doctor, inform your doctor before (with a phonecall) so you can avoid any contact with a pregnant woman.