Rubella is a contagious disease that is caused by a virus. It is most contagious when the rash first appears. It is spread by airborne transmission of, or direct contact with, respiratory secretions of infected persons. The incubation period is 14 days and symptoms can include low-grade fever, maculopapular rash 14-17 days after exposure, and lymphadenopathy in the second week. Congenital infection with rubella can affect virtually all organ systems resulting in deafness, cataracts, heart defects, microcephaly, mental retardation, bone alterations, and damage to the liver and spleen.
Rubella can be prevented by vaccination with MMR or MMRV vaccines. One dose is recommended for all infants at 12 months of age and older. A second dose is recommended at 4 to 6 years of age. In unvaccinated children 12 years and older, two doses of MMR are required at a minimum interval of 1 month (i.e. minimum of 28 days) between doses.