Initially, symptoms of German measles may be so mild that you hardly notice you have an infection. Symptoms usually develop within a 2 to 3-week period (incubation period) after the initial exposure to the virus. Once you begin to feel ill, symptoms last between 3 and 7 days.
Symptoms you will experience are:
- A rash that is pink or red in colour. A rash initially develops on the face, typically behind the ears, spreading around the head and neck. The rash then spreads downwards towards the trunk (chest and stomach), arms, legs and the rest of the body. The rash consists of a number of small spots, which can become itchy. A rash typically clears by itself within 3 to 5 days (which is why it’s occasionally referred to as 3 day measles).
- Fever (usually under [celcius:38]): Symptoms of fever are generally mild, but can be more severe in adults.
- Tender or swollen lymph nodes. Glands or lymph nodes are small lumps of tissue found throughout the body. These glands contain white blood cells that help fight bacteria and viruses that cause infections. When infected with rubella, the glands tend to swell behind the ears (below the skull at the back of the head and neck). This swelling, which sometimes occurs even before a rash appears, can become painful. Swelling can also last for several weeks after the rash has cleared up.
- A runny or congested nose. Cold or flu-like symptoms can occur. Along with a runny or stuffy nose, you may also experience watery eyes, a sore throat and cough.
- Muscle and joint aches and pains
- Inflamed or red eyes (conjunctivitis)
In some cases, although rare, German measles can cause ear infections and swelling on the brain. Symptoms may not seem serious at first, but you should consult a medical professional, especially if you are pregnant or even suspect you may be pregnant.
If you experience any of the above symptoms as well as prolonged headaches, earache or a stiff neck, book an appointment with your doctor immediately.
What causes German measles (rubella)?
The rubella virus causes German measles and is highly contagious. The virus is easily spread through close contact from person to person or through the air. Tiny drops of fluid from the nose and throat while sneezing or coughing can easily spread the virus. You can also get the virus by touching an object contaminated with these droplets.
You are at your most contagious the week before a rash appears until approximately 2 weeks after it clears completely. As a result, an infected person can easily spread the virus before they are even aware they have it, especially if other symptoms aren’t yet noticeable.