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Rubella Antibody IgM

What is the Rubella-Antibodies diagnostic test?

Rubella-Antibodies diagnostic test is used to spot ongoing or previous infections caused by the rubella virus. Rubella virus is a member of the togavirus family, and humans are the only natural hosts to them. It is transmitted either via inhaling infected respiratory droplets or from the mother to the fetus through the placenta. Rubella virus is controlled due to the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine, but epidemics occur in areas where the vaccine is not used. The MMR vaccine develops immunity against the rubella virus and prevents its spread.

Rubella is a milder disease than measles. After exposure to the virus, its incubation period starts, during which it replicates in the airway tract and the lymph nodes and causes fever. Then, it spreads to internal organs and skin via blood, causing rashes that start on the face and progressively spread downwards to involve the trunk and limbs. The rash typically lasts 3 days, so the name three-day measles. Although normally, the rubella virus does not cause any serious complications, it can cause significant damage to the fetus if you are pregnant. Antibodies are developed against bacteria, viruses, and foreign particles naturally by the immune system after having exposure to them.

What is this test used for?

The Rubella-Antibodies diagnostic test tells us whether the virus has infected a person by checking if his immune system has made antibodies against the rubella virus. A person’s immune system makes IgM antibodies against the rubella virus within 3 to 7 days of exposure and IgG antibodies a few days later. IgM antibodies remain in the body for a few weeks, but once IgG antibodies are made against a certain toxin, they stay in the body for the whole life. This way, the Rubella-antibodies diagnostic test is useful for diagnosing patients with rubella.

The prenatal panel includes a Rubella-Antibodies diagnostic test to make sure the fetus is not infected with the rubella virus. It is also useful to check if a person has developed immunity against the rubella virus. 

Why and when do you need a Rubella-Antibodies diagnostic test?

Rubella-Antibodies diagnostic test is considered in people having rubella symptoms, especially;

  • Skin rashes.
  • Fever.
  • Conjunctivitis (Pink eye, inflammation of the membrane covering eyeball and eyelid).
  • Swollen lymph nodes.
  • Sore throat.
  • Muscle or joint pain.

It is also commonly done in; 

  • Women who want to conceive.
  • Newborn babies who might have got the virus from their mother.
  • Newborn babies who show congenital abnormalities related to the rubella virus.
  • Healthcare workers who have not received the vaccine or previous exposure.
  • As evidence of immunity in schools, hospitals, or work.

What kind of sample is required?

Rubella-antibodies diagnostic test uses a blood sample. A healthcare professional or your doctor draws out blood. First, an elastic band is tied to your arm to ensure your veins are fully exposed. After finding an appropriate vein, the area is cleaned with alcohol or antiseptic. Then a needle is gently inserted into the vein, and the blood is collected into the tube. The blood sample is then sent to the laboratory to check if you have made antibodies against the rubella virus.

Do you need to prepare for the test?

Your doctor will let you know in advance whether or not any special preparations are required for any test. Usually, for Rubella-Antibodies diagnostic test, no preparations are needed.

 Are there any risks to this test?

Normally, there are minimal risks involved with a normal blood test, including a little bleeding or soreness and bruising after the procedure. Besides that, if you have a needle phobia, you may get uncomfortable during the test. You will need to consult your doctor if after the test procedure you experience conditions like;

  • Skin hemorrhage (collection of blood under the skin).
  • Fainting or Dizziness.
  • Excess bleeding.
  • Infection at the puncture site. 

What does the test result mean?

The test results will vary according to your health history.  
The diagnosis can be made by observing a fourfold or greater rise in the antibodies, which indicates a positive test. A positive test result can mean antibodies have developed in the body due to;

  • Vaccine.
  • Ongoing infection.
  • Previous infection.

A negative test result specifies that you are not having any infection, prior exposure, or vaccine to the rubella virus.

If the levels of IgM antibodies are high, but you have your IgG levels low, you may be having an acute phase of the rubella virus which is recent. High IgG levels are usually checked to make sure you have developed immunity against the rubella virus.

In the prenatal panel, rubella antibodies diagnostic test helps diagnose CRS (congenital rubella syndrome).

Congenital rubella syndrome:

If in the early pregnancy, the mother is infected with the rubella virus, it can be transmitted to the fetus and cause serious congenital disabilities such as;

  • Congenital glaucoma.
  • Hepato-splenomegaly (enlargement of liver and spleen).
  • Microcephaly (smaller than normal head).
  • Hearing impairment.
  • Pigmentary retinopathy.
  • Congenital heart diseases; commonly PDA (patent ductus arteriosus).

Besides causing congenital abnormalities in the baby, it can also lead to miscarriages and stillbirths.

Related tests:

  • MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) blood profile test.
  • Mumps blood test.
  • Toxoplasma gondii antibodies blood test.
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