Sample Submission Q&A

Submission of Samples to CDC for Rubella Testing

Q: What tests are used?

A: The reference laboratory at CDC uses commercial enzyme-linked immunoassays (EIAs) for rubella IgM and IgG testing and a laboratory-developed assay for IgG avidity testing. The rubella IgM assay is a capture IgM format EIA; the rubella IgG test is an indirect EIA. For RNA detection and genotyping, laboratory developed RT-PCR assays are used.

Q: Who can send samples to CDC?

A: In general, the State Public Health Laboratory (SPHL) refers serum and/or viral samples to CDC for rubella testing, usually for confirmatory testing. The mission of the CDC national laboratory is to provide support for rubella surveillance as needed. Certain circumstances sometimes require that initial testing is done at CDC. Shipment of such samples to CDC can be arranged by local public health offices or private clinics and hospitals to expedite testing. However, in such cases, the SPHL should notify Dr. Joseph Icenogle ( in CDC’s Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and Herpesvirus Laboratory Branch (MMRHLB).

Q: What information is needed along with the specimen?

A: A completed CDC Form 50.34 must be submitted with each specimen. It is important to include the date of the last rubella vaccination (usually MMR), if applicable, and the dates of rash onset and specimen collection. A patient identification number and/or name, as well as the patient date of birth should be entered on the form.

Q: When will the result be available?

A: Specimens for rubella testing are delivered by courier to the STAT (Specimen Triage and Tracking) laboratory at CDC. Samples are then delivered to the MMRHLB lab (Unit #81). The turnaround time for testing samples is at most five working days after the delivery of samples to the rubella reference lab by the STAT lab.

Reports are usually sent back to the submitter by encrypted email to the email address given on the submission form.

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