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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 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, 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 the 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 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: Fraser, Marianne, MSN, RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Haldeman-Englert, Chad, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 10/1/2017
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