Symptoms of measles, mumps and rubella

What are the symptoms of measles?

Measles is the most serious of the three diseases. It is a highly infectious illness spread by droplets from the nose and mouth.

Common symptoms include: fever, rash, loss of appetite, tiredness, cough, runny nose, painful red eyes, ear infections, diarrhoea. Children who get measles usually have to spend about 5 days in bed and have 10–14 days off school, if there are no serious complications.

Serious complications include: pneumonia, fever induced convulsions or fits, inflammation of the brain (encephalitis). Children may be hospitalised. A rare late complication of measles is subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE), which causes progressive brain damage and is always fatal.

What are the symptoms of mumps?

Mumps is less contagious than measles. Mumps is usually a mild disease in children. However, serious complications can occur.

Common symptoms include: low grade fever, loss of appetite, tiredness, headache, general aches and pains, runny nose, painful and swollen glands in the cheeks, neck or under the jaw. These symptoms usually go away within 10 days or so. 

Serious complications include: inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), partial or complete deafness. Adolescent boys may experience painful, swollen testicles, which very rarely causes infertility. Mumps may cause spontaneous miscarriage during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.

What are the symptoms of rubella?

Rubella, which is also known as German measles, is usually a mild disease. However, rubella can have serious consequences for children and pregnant women. Rubella infection will normally last for 48–72 hours. 

Common symptoms include: fever, tiredness, swollen glands, joint pain, sore eyes, red rash around the ears and neck. 

Serious complications include: inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), tendency to bleed or bruise (thrombocytopenia).

Congenital rubella: If a woman catches rubella during the first 3 months of her pregnancy, the virus almost always causes serious birth defects in her unborn child including deafness, blindness, heart defects and intellectual impairment.

Copyright NCIRS 2009 - Last updated 14 June 2013

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