Rubella (German Measles) Test

This is a test to determine if you have sufficient rubella antibodies to protect you from the rubella virus. It can tell if you have had a past infection or detect a recent infection. This test is done prior to or at the beginning of a pregnancy to verify immunity; if a pregnant woman has symptoms of rubella, such as fever and rash; if a newborn shows signs of abnormal development or birth defects that may be caused by an in utero infection; if there is need to verify a recent rubella infection or to verify immunity

This test measures the presence of rubella antibodies in the blood. Antibodies are proteins that the body creates in response to an infection or exposure to a microorganism or other foreign substance. Rubella antibodies are produced in response to an infection by the rubella virus. There are two types of rubella antibodies: IgM (short-term) and IgG (long-term). The presence of IgM rubella antibodies in the blood can indicate a recent infection while the presence of IgG antibodies may indicate a recent or past rubella infection or that a rubella vaccine (a measles, mumps, rubella vaccine) has been given and is providing adequate protection.

The rubella virus generally causes a mild infection marked by a fine red rash that appears on the face and neck and then travels to the trunk and limbs before disappearing a few days later. The virus is passed through nasal and throat secretions and can cause symptoms such as fever, enlarged lymph nodes, runny nose, red eyes, and joint pain. Symptoms may be so minimal, especially in children, that they are not perceived as being from a viral illness. In most patients, rubella goes away within a couple of days without any special medical treatment and causes no further health issues. The primary concern with rubella infection is when a pregnant woman contracts it for the first time during the first three months of her pregnancy. The developing fetus is the most vulnerable to the virus at this time and if it is passed on to the fetus by the mother, it can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and/or congenital rubella syndrome (CRS), a group of serious birth defects that will permanently affect the child. CRS can cause delayed development, mental retardation, deafness, cataracts, an abnormally small head, liver problems, and heart defects.


A blood sample is drawn from a vein in the arm of an adult or from a heel-prick or the umbilical cord of a newborn.


Method HAI

Result Less than 1:8

Interpretation No immunity to rubella

Method HAI

Result Greater than 1:20

Interpretation Immunity to rubella

Method Latex agglutination (LA)

Result Negative

Interpretation No immunity to rubella

Method Enzyme-linked immunosorbent

Result Less than 0:9 international units/ml assay (ELISA) IgM

Interpretation No infection

Method ELISA IgM

Result Greater than 1.1

Interpretation Active infection

Method ELISA IgG

Result Less than 7 international units/ml

Interpretation No immunity to rubella

Method ELISA IgG

Result Greater than 10 international units/ml

Interpretation Immunity to rubella

Ranges for normal findings may vary among different laboratories and hospitals. You should always check with your doctor after having lab work or other tests done to discuss the meaning of your test results and whether your values are considered within normal limits.


Your caregiver will go over the test results with you and discuss the importance and meaning of your results, as well as treatment options and the need for additional tests if necessary.


It is your responsibility to obtain your test results. Ask the lab or department performing the test when and how you will get your results.