Rubella test

Other names: German Measles Test

Rubella (also known as German measles) is a viral infection, which is rare in the UK. Rubella used to be very common, especially amongst children; however, a vaccination against rubella has now been around for many years and there are very few cases of the infection. Rubella is usually a mild condition, but it can be very dangerous for pregnant women; if a pregnant woman is exposed to the virus during the early stages of the pregnancy, this can cause miscarriage, still birth and birth defects.

The rubella test is used to detect the presence of antibodies to the virus; the presence of certain types of antibody will determine a person’s immunity to rubella.

When is the test used?

The test is used to determine whether a patient has an active or recent rubella infection; it may also be used to check that a patient is immune to the condition after a vaccination. It is advisable for all women who are pregnant or planning to get pregnant to have the test to check they are immune to the infection.

The test is usually ordered when a doctor suspects that a patient has a rubella infection; symptoms include high temperature, a raised skin rash and generally feeling ill.

How is the test done?

The test is done by taking a sample of the patient’s blood; usually the sample is taken from a vein on the inside of the elbow (this is because veins are usually more prominent here). A needle is inserted into the vein and the blood is drawn out using a syringe; the sample will then be bottled, labelled and sent away to the laboratory for analysis.

What do the test results mean?

If the test results reveal that the patient has IgG antibodies, this indicates that the patient is not protected against the rubella virus.

If the patient has IgG antibodies but no IgM antibodies, this means that the patient has been exposed to the virus in the past.

If the test is done on a baby, because the mother was suspected of having an infection during pregnancy, the presence of IgM antibodies indicates that the baby was infected during pregnancy.

Specific Blood Tests

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