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Measles Virus (Rubeola) - Serology​​

Information Category

Information Detail

Supplemental Information RequestedRequested: Travel history, illness onset date 
Submittal Form​​
Specimens must be accompanied with a hard copy of the completed VRDL General Purpose Specimen Submittal Form​ (PDF) or a form generated in the VRDL Lab Web Portal.
Methodology (Commercial Test Name or Laboratory Developed Test (LDT))IFA: IgG and IgM for serum or plasma (LDT) (Diagnostic)
EIA: IgG and IgM for serum (LDT) (Diagnostic)
EIA: IgG and IgM for CSF (LDT) (Diagnostic)
Reflex TestingIn cases of suspected vaccine failure, measles IgG-positive specimens may be forwarded to the CDC for avidity testing
Acceptable Specimen Type(s) and Collection Method

Human specimens:

  • Serum: serum tubes (red top) or serum separator tubes (red/gray or gold top)
  • Plasma : EDTA (lavender top) or heparin plasma separator tubes (green top)
  • When collection of blood may be difficult (e.g., infants), blood may be collected in capillary tubes. Approximately 3 capillary tubes of blood should be collected. Capillary tubes should be capped and placed in a larger tube for protection during transport.
  • CSF: sterile collection tubes
Minimum Volume Requested​
  • Serum: 1 mL
  • Whole blood in serum separator tubes or EDTA tubes: 3-5 mL
  • CSF: 1 mL
Transport Medium (if using)Not Applicable
Specimen LabelingEach specimen tube must be labeled with at least two unique patient identifiers, e.g., patient full name and date of birth.
Storage & Preservation of Specimen / Shipping Conditions
  • Serum: freeze or refrigerate specimens after collection.
  • Whole blood: refrigerate specimens promptly after collection. Do not freeze whole blood.
  • CSF: freeze or refrigerate specimens promptly after collection.

Ship refrigerated specimens to VRDL on cold packs. Ship frozen specimens to VRDL on dry ice.

Shipping Instructions

Work with your local public health department to ensure samples are packaged according to instructions for Biological Substance – Category B (UN 3373) shipment.

Ship specimens and a hard copy of the completed submittal forms to:  


ATTN: Specimen Receiving

850 Marina Bay Parkway

Richmond, CA 94804

Phone: 510-307-8585

Turnaround Time5 Business Days

  • A negative result does not preclude the possibility of infection 
  • Blood collected within 3 days of rash onset may test falsely negative for measles IgM in persons with measles 
  • Persons previously vaccinated with a measles-containing vaccine may not mount a measurable measles IgM response 
  • Pregnancy may cause a falsely positive IgM result. Other diseases, such as parvovirus, infectious mononucleosis, or rheumatologic disease can cause false positive measles IgM results 
  • This is not a functional test to determine if a patient’s serum will neutralize measles virus
Additional InformationThe optimal test for cases of suspected measles is RT-PCR of throat swab or urine collected early in the course of disease.
Only patients suspected of measles will be tested for IgM reactivity.
VRDL Points of ContactMedical and Epidemiology Liaisons: (510) 307-8585 or​​​

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