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Rubella Blood Test

Last updated Aug. 27, 2018

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

Rubella Blood Test helps detect and measure these antibodies that were created by the immune system.

What are the other Names for this Test? (Equivalent Terms)

  • 3-Day Measles Test
  • German Measles Test
  • IgM & IgG Test

What is Rubella Blood Test? (Background Information)

  • Rubella infection: It is a contagious viral infection marked by red rashes on the body. The symptoms include fever, runny nose, headaches, and general uneasiness. Both children and adults are affected mildly by these symptoms, which subside after a few days
  • The biggest threat of this disease is to pregnant women, especially during their first 12-18weeks of gestation. The developing fetuses may be seriously affected and could be stillborn, or born with permanent birth defects, a condition termed as congenital rubella syndrome (CRS)

Rubella Blood Test: Due to a rubella vaccination or a recent/past rubella infection, the body generates antibodies, which remain in the blood stream. This test helps detect and measure these antibodies that were created by the immune system. Based on this information it can be determined, if the body can successfully resist a rubella virus attack, in the future.

Due to a lifelong immunity, rubella infection generally occurs only once in those individuals, who were never vaccinated. Individuals vaccinated against rubella do not usually get a rubella infection. A negative result occurs due to the absence of antibodies against rubella and it helps identify individuals needing rubella vaccination.

What are the Clinical Indications for performing the Rubella Blood Test?

The tests recommended, also depend on an analysis of the clinical scenario by the healthcare provider.Individuals in the following category should get tested for either IgM antibodies, IgG antibodies, or in some cases, for both IgM and IgG antibody:

  • Pregnant women in the first trimester or, women who plan to get pregnant in the near future
  • A child born with birth defects or abnormalities
  • To verify a rubella infection (recent/past) in individuals, who have never received a rubella vaccination
  • To verify immunity against rubella in individuals, who do not recall a past infection, or those who do not have documentation of vaccination against rubella
  • Any individual showing signs and symptoms of a rubella infection

How is the Specimen Collected for Rubella Blood Test?

Sample required: Blood

Process: Insertion of needle into a vein (arm), or by pricking an infant’s heel, or blood taken from a neonate’s umbilical cord.

Preparation required: None

What is the Significance of the Rubella Blood Test Result?

Negative test for IgG antibodies against rubella implies:

  • In adult/child – it indicates a previous infection and the individual is immune against the disease
  • In a newborn – the mother has passed on the immunity (passive) to the baby. Such an immunity from the mother to the child, will protect the child for about 6 months

Positive test for IgM antibodies against rubella implies:

  • In adult/child – it indicates a recent infection and the individual will develop immunity against the disease. Sometimes, IgG maybe weakly present, in addition to IgM
  • In a newborn – the child was infected while it was in the womb

The laboratory test results are NOT to be interpreted as results of a "stand-alone" test. The test results have to be interpreted after correlating with suitable clinical findings and additional supplemental tests/information. Your healthcare providers will explain the meaning of your tests results, based on the overall clinical scenario.

Additional and Relevant Useful Information:

IgM & IgG: Both are antibodies belonging to protein immunoglobulin (Ig) class. While IgM (short-term) are produced immediately when the virus attacks the body, IgG (lifelong) are produced much later. Thus, the presence of these antibodies gives an indication of the period of infection.

Certain medications that you may be currently taking may influence the outcome of the test. Hence, it is important to inform your healthcare provider, the complete list of medications (including any herbal supplements) you are currently taking. This will help the healthcare provider interpret your test results more accurately and avoid unnecessary chances of a misdiagnosis.

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Sept. 7, 2013
Last updated: Aug. 27, 2018