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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 three diseases: measles, mumps, and rubella.

The test can find out whether you are immune to the three diseases. All three 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 three months of her pregnancy, it could cause birth defects.

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

Why might I have this test?

You might have this test if you are planning to become pregnant or are pregnant.

You may also have this test if you are a health care 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 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 doctor may also order a swab test of the throat or a spinal fluid test to diagnose mumps.

What do my test results mean?

Many things may affect your lab test results. These include the method each lab uses to do the test. Even if your test results are different from the normal value, you may not have a problem. To learn what the results mean for you, talk with your health care provider.

Your body makes two rubella antibodies: IgM and IgG. If IgM is found in your blood, you may have had a recent infection. If IgG is present, it could mean that you had a rubella infection in the past or that you had a vaccine. These antibodies mean that you have protection you need.  

The findings for rubella antibody are given in ratio form:

  • HAI less than 1:8, means you have no immunity to rubella

  • HAI greater than 1:20, means you have immunity to rubella

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 but no IgM antibodies, it could mean that you are immune to measles or had the infection previously.

Findings for mumps:

  • If antibodies are found, it may mean that you have an active mumps infection or immunity to mumps.

How is this test done?

The test requires a blood sample, which is drawn through a needle from a vein in your arm. For a newborn, the sample may be taken from the heel or umbilical cord.

Does this test pose any risks?

Taking a blood sample with a needle carries risks that include bleeding, infection, bruising, or feeling dizzy. When the needle pricks your arm, you may feel a slight stinging sensation or pain. Afterward, the site may be slightly 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.