The cause of rubella is a virus that's passed from person to person. It can spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or it can spread by direct contact with an infected person's respiratory secretions, such as mucus. It can also be transmitted from a pregnant woman to her unborn child via the bloodstream. A person with rubella is contagious from 10 days before the onset of the rash until about one or two weeks after the rash disappears. An infected person can spread the illness before the person realizes he or she has it.

Rubella is rare in the United States because most children receive a vaccination against the infection at an early age. However, cases of rubella do occur, mostly in unvaccinated foreign-born adults.

The disease is still common in many parts of the world. The prevalence of rubella in other countries is something to consider before going abroad, especially if you're pregnant.

Jul. 09, 2011

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