Rubella IgM Test

Rubella IgM test

Last Updated September 21st, 2020

What is Rubella?

Rubella or German measles is an infection that occurs due to the presence of the Rubella virus in the body. The term Rubella is derived from the Latin word “little red”, here meaning red rash. Rubella is also known as the three-day measles. It can be identified as a red rash and is contagious but should not be confused with measles.

Rubella is caused by a different virus and is not as infectious as measles and generally goes away within a few days. The Rubella virus can be prevented by the measles-mumps-rubella or MMR vaccine and is generally administered during childhood or school-going age.

What is a Rubella IgM test?

When your body is infected by the Rubella virus, the IgG and the IgM antibodies are produced. These antibodies defend the body from the disease. The IgM antibody is produced within a few days of the onset of the infection and indicates a recent infection. The IgG indicates that you had the infection in the past or you have taken a vaccination for the same. The Rubella IgM test helps in the diagnosis of a recent Rubella infection in the body.

Why do I need the test?

Your doctor may order a Rubella IgM test due to the following reasons:

– If he suspects you have developed measles, Rubella or mumps.

– The test can be done in early pregnancy to verify immunity in the mother and the unborn child.

– Rubella during pregnancy can cause congenital rubella syndrome or CRS, stillbirth, miscarriage, birth defects, deafness and even death to the developing fetus.

When do I need the test?

The symptoms and signs of Rubella generally appear within 14 to 21 days of the infection. Your health care provider may order a Rubella IgM test if you are exhibiting the following symptoms such as:

– The appearance of a pink rash on the face that later spreads downward to the entire body, arms, and legs.
– Mild fever.
Stuffy nose.
– Redness or inflammation of the eyes.
– Pain in the joints.
– Tenderness of the lymph nodes.

Who needs the Rubella IgM test?


– Any person who is experiencing the Rubella symptoms can go for the test.

– As a precautionary test for women who are planning to get pregnant.

– Pregnant women who are suspected to have the infection.

– Babies with birth defects or congenital rubella syndrome.

– Newborn babies whose mother had been tested with Rubella.

– Students who are planning to join the college or go abroad to study.

– Health care providers who have worked with Rubella patients or have received the vaccine in the past.

What preparations do I need before the test?

The test is very simple. You do not need any special preparation for the test.

Do I need to fast before the test?

No. There is no need to fast before the test. If you are taking any other blood test that requires fasting, you may be asked not to eat or drink anything a few hours before the test.

How is the test done?

– A health care provider will visit you in your home and collect the blood sample.

– You will be required to wear a short-sleeved shirt or top for the convenience of the test.

– The technician will clean a small patch of skin on the upper part of your arm with an antiseptic solution.

– He will tie a tourniquet or an elastic band around your arm. This will swell up the veins and make it easier to draw the blood.

– A small needle will be inserted into the vein of your arm.

– Blood will be withdrawn and collected in a small vial or syringe.

– The tourniquet will be removed.

– A small cotton pad will be pressed on the puncture site to stop bleeding.

– A band-aid will be applied to the puncture site.

– The blood will then be sent to a laboratory for testing.

How will I feel during the test?

You will feel a small stinging sensation during the test. The sensation is mild and will go away in a short while.

How long will the test take to complete?

The test will take a maximum of 5 minutes.

When will I get the test results?

You will get your test results within a day or two.

What is the cost of the Rubella IgM test in India?

The cost of the test in India depends on the city, laboratory, and the quality of the test. It can be anywhere between Rs 160 to Rs 1050 and in some places even more.

Does this test have any risks?

There is little or no risk to this test. Some individuals may experience certain side effects after the test such as:

– Bleeding from the puncture site.
– Infection or soreness in and around the area of the puncture site.
– Hematoma or accumulation of blood under the skin.
If your symptoms persist, you are advised to seek medical help or refer to a doctor immediately.

What is the reference range for Rubella IgM?

The reference range for Rubella IgM.

Type Avidity Index or AI for Rubella IgM
NegativeLess or equal to 0.8 AI
Equivocal 0.9 to 1.0 AI
PositiveGreater than or equal to 1.1 AI

What do the results mean?

If your test report indicates a reading less than 0.8 AI, then your test is negative and there is no presence of the infection in your blood. If your readings are between 0.9 to 1.0 AI, it is suggestive of a Rubella infection and your doctor may ask you to do a repeat test within 10 to 14 days to rule out any foul play. A reading above or equal to 1.1 AI is a positive report and shows the presence of the infection or any past infection. In any case, you must contact your doctor immediately after getting the results who will explain and give you the correct prognosis.

What is the significance of the Rubella IgM test result?

A positive test report indicates that you had a recent infection. The presence of Rubella IgM antibodies in the blood specimen of a pregnant woman can be fatal for the unborn child and needs immediate attention.

In some cases, the test report may come out as false-positive due to infection caused by some other viruses or due to some other protein reaction in the body. In such cases, your doctor may order an IgG antibody test and again a repeat test after 7 to 21 days to confirm the Rubella infection.

A negative test report usually indicates that you are not suffering from Rubella. However, individuals with very low immunity like those who are suffering from HIV can be too weak to produce enough IgM antibodies. Their test reports may come out as negative for Rubella. The doctor may suggest an IgG test to get a proper diagnosis of the infection.

What are the limitations of the Rubella IgM test?

The Rubella IgM antibodies are detectable only after 7 to 10 days of the infection and start to diminish after four to five weeks and are no longer detectable. The presence of IgM antibodies in the blood shows that the patient had a recent infection, but in actuality, the infection must have occurred within the past one to three months.

What is the importance of the Rubella IgM test in pregnancy?

A pregnant woman can have a Rubella IgM routine test to rule out the presence of the infection in the blood. She can also be tested if she has any history of Rubella infection or has symptoms like rash or measles which is suggestive of the infection.

A positive Rubella IgM test indicates she had the infection recently or she had immunization. A pregnant woman who is tested with Rubella infection or has come in contact with the infection can pass on the infection to the unborn child who can have congenital rubella syndrome or birth defects and even loss of pregnancy. So, Rubella IgM testing is extremely crucial during the first trimester of pregnancy.

Is the Rubella IgM test possible in babies?

Yes. The Rubella IgM test can be used to detect Congenital Rubella Syndrome or CRS in newborns, babies, and infants. Mothers who were infected by the rubella infection can pass on the disease to their unborn child. CRS can cause serious birth defects in babies such as:

Low birth weight.
– Heart defects.
– Hearing loss.
– Developmental delay.
– The unusually small size of the head, lower jaw, or eyes.
– Problems with the liver, spleen, or the bone marrow.

Conditions can also appear as the child grows. Symptoms include:

Type 1 diabetes.
– Difficulty in learning.
– In rare cases, it can even cause death due to the severity of the disease.
The test can be done at the birth of the child and again repeated after one month and then at 3 months. Additionally, an IgG test can be done along with the IgM test to confirm CRS. The test can also be done in older children to diagnose the infection.

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