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Diagnosis of rubella

If you think you may have rubella let your doctor's practice know before you visit, so they can arrange your visit so other patients, such as pregnant women, are not put at risk. Your doctor may suspect that you have rubella from your symptoms, but other viral infections often have similar symptoms, so a blood test is the only way to confirm a diagnosis.

Blood test

A sample of blood will be taken from a vein in your arm and tested for certain antibodies. Antibodies are proteins that your body produces to destroy disease-carrying organisms and toxins. If you have rubella or you have had it in the past, your blood will test positive for certain antibodies.

Diagnosis in pregnant women

If you are pregnant and have some of the symptoms of rubella, your doctor may want to test you for the infection to rule it out early on. This is because of the risk of birth defects developing if rubella infection occurs in early pregnancy.

You should see your doctor if you have had face-to-face contact with someone who has rubella, or if you have spent more than 15 minutes in the same room as someone who has rubella. If you have not previously been immunised against rubella, your doctor may wish to do further tests and you should be vaccinated after the baby is born.

If testing shows that you have rubella, you will be referred to a doctor who specialises in conditions that can affect unborn babies (an obstetrician).

Sources:

NHS Choices (German measles, Diagnosing rubella)

Last reviewed: July 2017

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