Rubella (German measles): guidance, data and analysis

The symptoms, diagnosis, management, surveillance and epidemiology of rubella (German measles).

Rubella, also know as German measles, is a mild disease caused by togavirus. Transmission is through direct contact with an infected person or droplet spread.

Rubella can cause serious complications for pregnant women and their unborn baby.

Symptoms of rubella include:

  • a transient red rash
  • swollen lymph glands around the ears and back of the head
  • occasionally arthritis (any abnormality of a joint caused by inflammation) and arthralgia (pain in a joint caused by inflammation) in adults

Rubella is a notifiable disease in England and Wales.

Rubella is vaccine preventable. In the UK, children receive 2 doses of the combined measles mumps rubella (MMR) vaccine as part of the routine childhood immunisation schedule.

For more information about rubella, visit NHS Choices.


The Immunisation and Diagnosis Unit (IDU) provides diagnostic and reference services for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR).

Clinical management

Data collection


For older data, view the health protection archive.

  1. Measles, mumps and rubella: laboratory confirmed cases in England 2014

    • Research and analysis
  2. Rubella: confirmed cases

    • Research and analysis
  3. Rubella: notifications by age group, region and sex

    • Research and analysis


Immunisation is the most effective way to protect against rubella. Children should receive 2 doses of MMR before the age of 5 years.

In April 2013, Public Health England, NHS England and the Department of Health announced a national catch-up programme to increase MMR vaccination uptake in children and teenagers.

Vaccine uptake data for MMR are available through the Cover of vaccination evaluated rapidly (COVER) programme.

Published 1 April 2013
Last updated 1 April 2016 + show all updates
  1. Revised in line with change about end of screening for rubella susceptibility in pregnant women, 1 April 2016.
  2. First published.