Rubella is a rash illness caused by the rubella virus. It's generally a mild illness, but if acquired by women in the first 16 weeks of pregnancy can have devastating effects on the unborn child, leading to Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS). The virus can affect all foetal organs and lead to serious birth defects such as:

  • learning difficulties
  • cataracts
  • deafness
  • cardiac abnormalities
  • restriction of intrauterine growth
  • inflammatory lesions of the brain, liver, lungs and bone marrow 

For more information on the symptoms and treatment of rubella, visit NHS Inform.


For all infection prevention and control guidance visit the A-Z ​pathogens section of the National Infection and Prevention Control Manual.

Data and surveillance