Does this test have other names?
Mumps IgM and IgG antibodies, mumps PCR assay, mumps viral culture
What is this test?
This test looks for antibodies to the mumps virus in your blood.
Mumps is a contagious disease that usually begins with flulike symptoms. The best-known
symptom of the disease is swollen salivary glands. This causes painful swelling between
the ear and jaw. But this swelling doesn't occur in everyone with the mumps. Some
people have no symptoms at all.
When you have the mumps, your immune system makes antibodies to fight the virus. These
are called mumps IgM and IgG antibodies. You will also develop mumps antibodies after
the mumps vaccine.
Widespread vaccination of children has made mumps infections rare in the U.S., but
the disease has not disappeared entirely. Mumps is usually mild in children, but it
can cause complications. These include:
Meningitis. Symptoms include a severe headache and stiff neck. Meningitis occurs in about 15%
of all mumps cases, but usually doesn't cause permanent harm.
Testicular inflammation. Up to half of boys who get the mumps develop this painful complication.
Damage to the testicles. Sterility is rare.
Ovarian or breast inflammation
Deafness in one or both ears. This complication develops in 1 out of every 20,000 people.
Why do I need this test?
You may need this test if your healthcare provider suspects that you have the mumps,
especially if you haven't been vaccinated against the disease. Symptoms of the mumps
Lack of appetite
Swollen jaw (parotitis)
You may also have this test to find out whether you have immunity to mumps, either
from a previous infection or from a vaccine.
You may also have this test to rule out mumps in cases of suspected meningitis, or
inflammation of the lining of the brain, or a salivary gland infection.
If you are an adult, it's likely that a case of mumps will be more serious than if
you contracted it as a child.
What other tests might I have along with this test?
Your healthcare provider may also order a saliva or urine test for the mumps virus
itself. If you have symptoms of meningitis, your provider may also test your cerebrospinal
fluid for the mumps virus.
Your provider may also order a hemagglutination inhibition test (HAI) to look for
the mumps virus. Other viruses can cause a swollen jaw and other symptoms that are
similar to mumps. Your provider may do other tests to make sure you don't have other
What do my test results mean?
Many things may affect your lab test results. These include the method each lab uses
to do the test. Even if your test results are different from the normal value, you
may not have a problem. To learn what the results mean for you, talk with your healthcare
If IgG antibodies are found, it means you have had a previous infection or were vaccinated
against the mumps. These antibodies are not typically found early after you are exposed
to the virus but appear over time and remain in your body for life.
If IgM antibodies are found, it's likely that you have an active mumps infection or
recently had one. These antibodies appear very early after exposure to the virus,
reach a peak concentration, and then decline over a period of several weeks.
Even if you show symptoms of mumps but test negative for IgM, it's still possible
that you have a mumps infection. Further tests can confirm or rule out the diagnosis.
How is this test done?
The test requires a blood sample, which is drawn through a needle from a vein in your
Does this test pose any risks?
Taking a blood sample with a needle carries risks that include bleeding, infection,
bruising, or feeling dizzy. When the needle pricks your arm, you may feel a slight
stinging sensation or pain. Afterward, the site may be slightly sore.
What might affect my test results?
Having a mild case of the mumps or the mumps vaccine in the past may affect your results.
Exposure to Epstein-Barr virus, adenovirus, human herpes virus 6, and parainfluenza
viruses 1, 2, and 3 may affect your results.
How do I get ready for this test?
You don't need to prepare for this test. But be sure your healthcare provider knows
about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes
medicines that don't need a prescription and any illicit drugs you may use.