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Measles Antibody (IgM)

Also Known As: Rubeola IgM Antibodies, Measles Virus, Rubeola (Measles) Ab IgM, Rubeola Antibodies IgM,  Rubeola Antibody


What Is A Measles Antibody Test?


The test helps diagnose the measles infection and establish whether you have developed immunity against measles due to a previous infection or vaccination. Sometimes, doctors use this test to confirm a measles case and investigate the real source.


Measles or rubeola is a virus belonging to the paramyxoviridae family. It leads to measles infection that often resolves on its own within a few days/weeks but, if left untreated, can lead to serious complications. However, it is important to know that it is preventable through the vaccine. This test for measles includes testing for antibodies present in the blood developed in response to the measles infection.


Sometimes the doctor interprets your test results in combination with the test for viral genetic material using the polymerase chain reaction method. The number of cases of measles infection is low, mostly because of the MMR vaccine that protects against measles, mumps, and rubella infection. In the past few years, some new cases have re-emerged primarily in people who are non-vaccinated and have traveled to countries of the world where measles is more prevalent.


Measles infects the lungs cells and the back of the throat. It is a highly contagious virus that can easily spread through sneezing, coughing, and touching surfaces already contaminated with the virus. According to the CDC, the virus can live up to 2 hours in the air where an infected individual has coughed or sneezed.


What Is The Test Used For?


The Measles Antibodies (IgG, IgM), Diagnostic test can be used to confirm that you are immune to the measles virus due to any past infection or vaccination. It also helps diagnose an active case of measles and, in some cases, serves as a reliable method to detect, monitor, and track the flare-ups for public health purposes.


This antibody testing helps detect the antibodies produced by the immune system in response to the measles infection or vaccine. The doctor will use this method to determine whether you are immune to the virus or have an active/ ongoing case due to the infection. The immunoglobulin-M, i.e., IgM, is the first type of antibody produced in the system after the infection or vaccination. This antibody level increases for many days, reaches its peak position, and then wears off over the next few weeks. The immunoglobulin-G, i.e., IgG, is produced later on, but once they develop, they will stay in your body for life. The main purpose of these antibodies is to protect against urine infection. Sometimes, your doctor will collect two blood samples several days apart to check the antibodies' level and differentiate between the ongoing active infection or prior infection.


Why And When Do You Need A Measles Antibody Test?


This test for measles is often ordered when your doctor or health care professional wants to determine if you are immune to the virus due to any previous infection or vaccination. The Measles Antibodies (IgG, IgM) Diagnostic test is also ordered when you are showing signs and symptoms of measles or when you have been in contact with an infected person, and the symptoms could be due to the transmission of the virus. The signs and symptoms of measles usually develop after 10 to 18 days of infection and usually includes one or more of the following related symptoms:


  • Extremely high fever
  • A characteristic rash that usually starts on the face and then spreads down to the body to your trunk and legs
  • Red, itchy, and watery eyes
  • Dry cough
  • Runny nose
  • Sensitivity to the light
  • Sore throat
  • Tiny white spots inside the mouth
  • Muscle aches


The testing can also be ordered during a confirmed or suspected infection outbreak where several people come in contact with an infected person (especially those who are non-vaccinated and have all the corresponding signs and symptoms).


What Kind Of Sample Is Required For The Test?


This antibody testing requires a blood sample, usually obtained by inserting a needle into the vein of your arm. A doctor or lab technician collects recommended amounts of blood in a vial or a test tube. Once an adequate amount of blood is collected, the sample is sent to a laboratory for further testing.


Do You Need To Prepare For The Test?


You don't need any special preparations for this test. However, you must talk with your healthcare provider or counselor for better interpretation and meaning of your results and your treatment options if you test positive for measles infection.


Are There Any Risks To This Test?


This test carries little to no risk. If you are getting your blood test done from a lab, be ready to experience slight pain or bruising at the puncture spot. These symptoms may last for a few minutes and quickly go away independently.


What Do The Test Results Mean?


A positive IgM antibody test in a person who has never been vaccinated is likely to show the presence of an active infection. Positive IgG and IgM antibody tests or a sudden rise in IgG titer levels in the blood serum accumulated several days apart also indicate that you have a current, ongoing infection or had this infection in the recent past.


The presence of measles IgG and IgM antibodies in an individual who has been vaccinated and is currently not showing any signs and symptoms indicates protection or immunity against the virus. If you do not have the related IgG or IgM antibodies, you will not be considered fully immune to the virus.


Related Tests: Rubella Test, Mumps Test

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