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Measles, Mumps, Rubella Antibody

Does this test have other names?

Rubella antibody, German measles antibody, hemagglutination inhibition (HAI), rubeola antibody, antibody titer

What is this test?

This test looks for antibodies to 3 diseases: measles, mumps, and rubella.

The test can find out whether you are immune to the 3 diseases. All 3 are quite contagious. If you've had them or been vaccinated against them, your immune system made antibodies to fight the viruses that cause them.

If you are planning to become pregnant, it's important to know whether you have these antibodies. If a woman develops rubella during the first 3 months of her pregnancy, it could cause birth defects.

Measles is also called rubeola, and rubella is also called German measles or 3-day measles.

Why do I need this test?

You may need this test if you are planning to become pregnant or are pregnant.

You may also have this test if you are a healthcare worker, because you may come in contact with children and adults who have measles, mumps, or rubella. If you don't have immunity, you can get vaccinated.

You may need this test if you are a college student to prove to your college or university that you are immune to measles, mumps, and rubella.

You also might have this test to diagnose measles, mumps, or rubella. Symptoms of measles include congestion, cough, fever, and a rash all over your body. Some people don't have the classic symptoms, but have measles antibodies in their blood. Symptoms of mumps include swollen parotid or salivary glands, fever, and headache. Symptoms of rubella include fever and a rash.

What other tests might I have along with this test?

Your healthcare provider may also order a swab test of the throat or a spinal fluid test to diagnose mumps.

What do my test results mean?

Test results may vary depending on your age, gender, health history, the method used for the test, and other things. Your test results may not mean you have a problem. Ask your healthcare provider what your test results mean for you. 

Your body makes two rubella antibodies: IgM and IgG. If IgM is found in your blood, but not IgG, you may have had a recent infection. If IgG is present, but not IgM, it could mean that you had an infection in the past or that you had the vaccine. These antibodies mean that you have the protection you need. 

Findings for measles antibody:

  • If IgM antibodies are present, it may mean you have an active measles infection.

  • If you have IgG antibodies in your blood, it could mean that you are immune to measles or had the infection previously.

Findings for mumps:

  • If IgM antibodies are present, it may mean that you have an active or recent mumps infection

  • If IgG antibodies are present, it may mean that you have immunity to mumps from a previous exposure to the disease or immunization.

How is this test done?

The test is done with a blood sample. A needle is used to draw blood from a vein in your arm or hand. For a newborn, the sample may be taken from the heel or umbilical cord.

Does this test pose any risks?

Having a blood test with a needle carries some risks. These include bleeding, infection, bruising, and feeling lightheaded. When the needle pricks your arm or hand, you may feel a slight sting or pain. Afterward, the site may be sore. 

What might affect my test results?

Your results may be affected by how soon you are tested after being infected or vaccinated.

How do I get ready for this test?

You don't need to prepare for this test. Be sure your healthcare provider knows about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes medicines that don't need a prescription and any illicit drugs you may use.

Online Medical Reviewer: Chad Haldeman-Englert MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Maryann Foley RN BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Turley Jr PA-C
Date Last Reviewed: 8/1/2020
© 2000-2020 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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