What Is the Difference Between Rubella and Rubeola?

Rubella and rubeola are contagious infections caused by two different viruses. Rubeola, or measles, affects the respiratory system and brings on flu-like symptoms, such as coughing and fever, according to the KidsHealth website. Rubella, also known as German measles, infects the lymph nodes and skin, causing swelling, fever and conjunctivitis. In both cases, the skin becomes covered with itchy red rashes.

KidsHealth states that people contract measles and rubella through contact with contagious droplets dispersed in the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Measles carriers are contagious approximately two days before symptoms arise and up to four days after developing a rash. On the other hand, rubella is highly contagious a week before and after the rash forms. In pregnant women, it can lead to congenital rubella syndrome, causing infants to develop birth defects and producing contagious nose, throat and urinary fluid for up to a year.

The measles rash is characterized by blotchy red spots that start on the face and spread out over the entire body. Sufferers may also develop Koplik’s spots, or red marks with bluish centers, inside their mouths, according to the Nemours Foundation. Rubella produces patches of red or pink spots and may cause mild skin shedding as the virus clears up. While measles typically lasts two weeks, rubella is considered a three-day virus. The measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, or MMR, is administered to most people in early childhood, making cases rare in the United States.