Rubella is caused by the rubella virus and is sometimes called German measles. It is usually a mild illness but it can cause severe health problems in babies of infected pregnant women. Up to 90% of babies whose mothers get rubella in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy will have a major health problem such as deafness, blindness, heart problems, brain damage, growth problems, swelling in the brain, liver or lungs.
Rubella is spread when an infected person coughs, or sneezes and you breathe it in, or from a pregnant woman to her developing baby through the bloodstream. It can cause fever, joint pain, headache, runny nose, sore eyes, rash and swollen glands. Rubella mainly occurs in unvaccinated children, or in adolescents and young adults who have received less than 2 doses of the vaccine.