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Measles, mumps, and rubella: prevention - What are the symptoms of measles, mumps, and rubella?

BMJ Group Medical Reference

Measles is an unpleasant, and sometimes serious, illness. But many people don't get any symptoms when they are infected with rubella (German measles). And about one-third of people with mumps may not realise they have it.

Symptoms of measles

Some people mistake rashes caused by other viruses for measles. But measles is not just a mild, red rash that soon goes away. Your child is likely to feel very miserable for at least a few days.

It takes 6 to 19 days for the symptoms of measles to appear after someone is infected.[6] You or your child may get some or all of these symptoms:

  • A runny nose, a high temperature, and sore, red eyes (conjunctivitis) at first

  • Small white spots inside the mouth

  • A red, blotchy rash. This normally appears about two to four days after the first symptoms. It usually starts on the head and neck, and spreads down the body

  • Feeling unwell and having a fever for five to six days. After this time, the fever should ease and the rash should fade.

Most people feel better within 7 to 10 days. But some people get a cough that lasts longer.

Symptoms of mumps

The main symptoms of mumps are swollen and painful glands in the neck. Sometimes other parts of the body are affected. But you may get no symptoms at all, or only mild ones.

It takes 15 to 24 days to get symptoms of mumps after being infected.[6] You or your child may get some or all of these symptoms:

  • A feeling that you have flu, with aches, pains, and tiredness

  • Swollen, painful saliva glands. The saliva glands are on your neck, just below your ears. They make the saliva that drains into your mouth. You may get swelling on one or both sides

  • Mild abdominal pain and headaches. You may find it hurts to chew and swallow.

The swelling usually goes away within 7 to 10 days. Some people don't get any symptoms, or have only mild ones. About one-third of people who get mumps may not realise they have it.[7]

Symptoms of rubella

Most people who catch rubella (German measles) are not very ill. You may get a rash and swollen glands. Or you may not notice any symptoms at all.

It takes 15 to 20 days to start getting symptoms after being infected.[6] You may not get any symptoms at all. But if you do, you may get:[6]

  • Swollen glands behind your ears, and possibly in other parts of your body

  • A spotty, pink-red rash that appears up to seven days after your glands swell. The rash usually starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body. The rash lasts one to five days before fading

  • A mild fever, a cold, a cough, a sore throat, or sore, red eyes (conjunctivitis).

Glossary

gland

A gland is any group of cells in the body that makes and releases something for use by another part of the body. For example, the thyroid gland makes a hormone called thyroxine. This acts on receptors within cells. By acting on the receptors it gives the cells a message to speed up their metabolism and work harder.

viruses

Viruses are microbes (tiny organisms) that need the cells of humans or other animals to exist. They use the machinery of cells to reproduce. Then they spread to other cells in the body.

For more terms related to Measles, mumps, and rubella: prevention

Citations

For references related to Measles, mumps, and rubella: prevention click here.
Last Updated: July 12, 2012
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.
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