Measles Diagnosis (anti-measles IgG, IgM)

Reporting Name

Useful For

Anti-Measles IgM is useful for the serological diagnosis of acute-phase measles virus infection. Anti-measles IgG is an indicator of successful measles virus vaccination or indicator of prior measles virus exposure.


Indications for Testing

·         Monitoring of illness associated with measles virus

·         Aid in the differential diagnosis of erythematous rash


Method Name

IgG and IgM enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)


Reporting Name

Anti-measles IgG

Anti-measles IgM




Rubeola virus

Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis


Specimen Required

Serology: Suitable specimens are individual samples (human sera or EDTA/heparinized/citrated plasma) obtained by standard laboratory techniques.


Specimen Minimum Volume



Transport Temperature

Specimen Room temperature Refrigerated Frozen
Serum NO YES* YES**

*The samples should be stored for not more than 3 days at 2-8°C.

**For longer delay, freeze at -70°C and transport on dry ice.


Reject Due To

Specimens other than Serum
Anticoagulants OK
Hemolysis OK
Lipemia OK
Icteric OK

Useful For

Anti-Measles IgM is useful for the serological diagnosis of acute-phase Measles virus infection. Anti-Measles IgG is an indicator of successful Measles virus vaccination or indicator of prior Measles virus exposure.


Clinical Information

Measles (rubeola) virus is a member of the family paramyxoviridae, which also includes mumps, respiratory syncytial virus, and parainfluenza viruses. Clinical infection with measles virus is characterized by a prodromal phase of high fever, cough, coryza, conjunctivitis, malaise, and Koplik’s spots on the buccal mucosa. An erythematous rash then develops behind the ears and over the forehead, spreading to the trunk.


Measles causes high fever, a runny nose, cough, conjunctivitis and a rash that usually lasts from 1-2 weeks. The red blotchy rash appears on the third to seventh day, starting on the face and then becomes more generalized. Complications may result from viral replication or bacterial infections. They can include pneumonia, otitis media, laryngeotracheobronchitis, diarrhea and encephalitis. Encephalitis while rare can occur with a case fatality rate of about 10% and result in permanent disability in about 25%. Very rarely a fatal brain disease called sub acute sclerosing panencephalitis develops years later.


Atypical measles can occur in patients who received killed measles virus vaccine and subsequently have been infected with the wild type strain of the virus. In addition, many individuals remain susceptible to measles virus because of vaccine failure or nonimmunization. Screening for antibody to measles virus will aid in identifying these nonimmune individuals.


Measles virus is highly contagious; pregnant women, immunocompromised, and nutritionally deficient individuals are at particularly high risk for serious complications of pneumonia and central nervous system involvement. One of the most highly communicable of all infectious diseases measles transmission is by direct contact with infectious droplets or by airborne spread and less commonly by articles freshly soiled with nose and throat secretions. Infants who are born to mothers who have had the disease are immune for about 6-9 months.


Link to disease control/immunization manual


Reference Values




Anti-measles IgM Anti-measles IgG Interpretation
NONREACTIVE NONREACTIVE No evidence of current or previous measles virus infection. Non-immune and susceptible to measles virus infection
NONREACTIVE REACTIVE Successful vaccination or previous natural measles virus infection
REACTIVE NONREACTIVE Possible early acute measles virus infection. Non-immune. To confirm infection recollect and document IgG seroconversion submit a repeat specimen in ≥3 weeks.


Clinical Reference

Bellini, W. J., and Icenogle, J. P. 2007. Measles and Rubella Viruses, p. 1378-1391. In Murray, P. R., Baron, E. J., Jorgensen, J. H., Landry, M. L., and Pfaller, M. A. Manual of Clinical Microbiology, 9th ed., vol. 2. ASM Press, American Society for Microbiology, Washington, DC.


Gershon, A. A. 2010. Measles Virus (Rubeola), p. 2229-2236. In Mandell, D., Bennett, J. E., and Dolin, R. Principles and practice of infectious diseases, 7th ed., vol. 2. Churchill Livingstone, Elsevier, Philadelphia, PA.


Siemens. 2008. Enzygnost® Anti-Measles Virus/IgM: package insert. Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics Products GmbH.


Siemens. 2008. Enzygnost® Anti-Measles Virus/IgG: package insert. Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics Products GmbH.


Status Days Analytic Time Maximum Laboratory Time Specimen Retention
Routine Monday, Thursday 24h 72h 1 month


Method Description

Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)


Performing Laboratory Location

Newfoundland & Labrador Public Health Laboratory

St. John’s


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