Rubella is usually a mild illness and is often not recognised, the child simply being 'under the weather'.
Its importance is the potential effects on an unborn foetus if infection is acquired during early pregnancy. The introduction of the MMR vaccine has reduced the incidence of primary rubella infection, and the number of severely affected unborn babies.
The incubation period is 14-21 days, fever is often mild, and children do not feel particularly unwell, unlike measles infection. A pink rash appears 3-4 days after the onset of the illness, mostly on the body, and lasts for only about 3 days. Children may have a cough, and their glands may swell slightly for a few days. Complications are very rare. There is no specific treatment.
Woman who may be pregnant should not come into contact with infected children. In the future, the risk of infection in pregnancy should be reduced as the currently immunised children grow into protected adults.
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