Also known as: German measles, 3-day measles
Although rubella (German measles) is generally a mild viral infection in children and young adults, it can produce severe infection in the fetus, resulting in spontaneous abortion, stillbirth, or congenital rubella syndrome. Because rubella infection normally induces immunoglobulin G (IgG) and IgM antibody production, measuring rubella antibodies can determine present infection as well as immunity resulting from past infection. The hemagglutination inhibition test is the most commonly used serologic test for rubella antibodies.
Procedure and posttest care
An IgG titer less than 10 IU/ml indicates susceptibility to rubella; a titer greater than 10 IU/ml indicates adequate protection against rubella.
IgM results are reported as positive or negative. The presence of IgM class antibody indicates congenital or recent infection.
Hemagglutination inhibition antibodies normally appear 2 to 4 days after the onset of the rash, peak in 2 to 3 weeks, and then slowly decline but remain detectable for life. A fourfold or greater rise from the acute to the convalescent titer indicates a recent rubella infection.
Because maternal antibodies cross the placenta and persist in the infant's serum for up to 6 months, congenital rubella can be detected only after this period. An elevated antibody titer in an infant age 6 months or older who has not been exposed to rubella postnatally confirms congenital rubella.
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