What is the role of lab studies in the diagnosis of measles?

Updated: Jun 06, 2019
  • Author: Selina SP Chen, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Russell W Steele, MD  more...
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Answer

Although the diagnosis of measles is usually determined from the classic clinical picture (see Clinical), laboratory identification and confirmation of the diagnosis are necessary for the purposes of public health and outbreak control. Laboratory confirmation is achieved by means of serologic testing for immunoglobulin G (IgG) and M (IgM) antibodies, isolation of the virus, and reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) evaluation.

A complete blood cell count (CBC) may reveal leukopenia with a relative lymphocytosis and thrombocytopenia. Liver function test (LFT) results may reveal elevated transaminase levels in patients with measles hepatitis.

Consult public health or infectious disease specialists for recommendations and guidelines for diagnostic confirmation of cases and prophylaxis of susceptible contacts.


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