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Mumps Antibody

Does this test have other names?

Mumps IgM and IgG antibodies, mumps viral culture

What is this test?

This test looks for antibodies to the mumps virus in your blood.

Mumps is a contagious disease that usually begins with flu-like symptoms. The best-known symptom of the disease is swollen salivary glands, which causes painful swelling between the ear and jaw. But this swelling doesn't occur in everyone with the mumps, and some people have no symptoms at all.

When you have the mumps, your immune system makes antibodies to fight the virus. These are called mumps IgM and IgG antibodies. You will also develop mumps antibodies after the mumps vaccine.

Widespread vaccination of children has made mumps infections rare in the U.S., but the disease has not disappeared entirely. Although mumps is usually mild in children, it can cause complications, including:

  • Meningitis. Symptoms include a severe headache and stiff neck. Meningitis occurs in about 15 percent of all mumps cases, but usually doesn't cause permanent harm.

  • Testicular inflammation. Up to 50 percent of boys who get the mumps develop this painful complication.

  • Damage to the testicles. Sterility is rare.

  • Ovarian or breast inflammation

  • Deafness in one or both ears. This complication develops in one out of every 20,000 people.

Why do I need this test?

You may need this test if your doctor suspects that you have the mumps, especially if you haven't been vaccinated against the disease. Symptoms of the mumps include:

  • Low-grade fever

  • Muscle aches

  • Exhaustion

  • Headache

  • Lack of appetite

  • Swollen jaw

You may also have this test to find out whether you have immunity to mumps, either from a previous infection or from a vaccination.

You may also have this test to rule out mumps in cases of suspected meningitis, or inflammation of the lining of the brain, or a salivary gland infection.

If you are an adult, it's likely that a case of mumps will be more serious than if you contracted it as a child.

What other tests might I have along with this test?

Your doctor may also order a saliva or urine test for the mumps virus itself. If you have symptoms of meningitis, your doctor may also test your cerebrospinal fluid for the mumps virus.

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.

If IgG antibodies are found, it means you have had a previous infection or were vaccinated against the mumps. These antibodies are not typically found early after you are exposed to the virus but appear over time and remain in your body for life.

If IgM antibodies are found, it's likely that you have an active mumps infection or recently had one. These antibodies appear very early after exposure to the virus, reach a peak concentration, and then decline over a period of several weeks.

Even if you show symptoms of mumps but test negative for IgM, it's still possible that you have a mumps infection. Further tests can confirm or rule out the diagnosis.

How is this test done?

The test requires a blood sample, which is drawn through a needle from a vein in your arm.

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?

Having a mild case of the mumps or the mumps vaccine in the past may affect your results.

Exposure to Epstein-Barr virus, adenovirus, human herpes virus 6, and parainfluenza viruses 1, 2, and 3 may affect your results.

How do I get ready for this test?

You don't need to prepare for this test. But be sure your doctor 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.