Lab Testing for Mumps
If you suspect mumps, specimens should be collected for serology, culture, and PCR.
On this page:
Submitting PCR (preferred) and Viral Isolation Specimens
Collecting PCR and Viral Isolation Specimens
Packaging and Shipping Specimens
Submitting Serology Specimens
Collecting Serology Specimens
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Lab Testing for Mumps (PDF: 26KB/2 pages)
Mumps should be considered in the differential diagnosis of patients presenting with parotitis or swelling of the salivary glands, regardless of vaccination history. MDH encourages health care providers to consider other infectious and non-infectious causes of parotitis, since negative lab results cannot be used to rule out mumps infection.
MDH requests that all mumps PCR and viral culture specimens be submitted to the MDH-Public Health Laboratory (MDH-PHL).
Always contact the MDH mumps surveillance staff when submitting specimens to MDH-PHL at 651-201-5414 or 1-877-676-5414.
- Collect PCR testing specimens (both buccal or throat and urine) within 4 days of parotitis onset if possible; specimens are accepted within 9 days of onset.
- If it is 5 days or more after onset of symptoms, it is important to collect BOTH buccal or throat AND urine specimens.
Buccal (ideal) or throat swab
Massage the buccal cavity (the space near the upper rear molars between the cheek and the teeth) for 30 seconds and swab the area; obtain a generous amount of saliva. Place swab in a sterile tube containing 2-3 ml of viral transport medium (VTM) or cell culture medium (e.g., MEM or Hanks Balanced Salt Solution) or other sterile isotonic solution (e.g., phosphate buffered saline). Note: Synthetic swabs are preferred.
- Collect 10 ml of urine in a STERILE urine specimen container.
Note: Viral isolation requires the same specimens and may be performed in certain circumstances.
Label tubes and containers with patient name, date of birth, and date collected and include an Infectious Disease Testing and Submission Form for each specimen (include project #955 on the request form). Keep samples cold (4°C). Ship with cold packs and by overnight service. For help with packaging and shipping, call MDH-PHL Biological Accessioning at 651-201-4953.
Send specimens to arrive Monday-Friday before 4:30 p.m. to:
MDH Public Health Laboratory
Attn: Biological Accessioning
601 Robert St. N.
St. Paul, MN 55155-2531
Submit serum specimens to usual reference laboratory. If submission to reference lab is not possible, contact the MDH mumps surveillance staff at 651-201-5414 or 1-877-676-5414 to discuss alternative options.
Collect 7-10 mls of blood in a red top tube or serum separator tube (SST).
- Draw blood for IgM antibody testing immediately after onset of parotitis (or other symptoms if no parotitis).
- Occasionally, false-negative mumps IgM results occur if the specimen is collected less than 96 hours after parotitis onset. If IgM is negative and collected early, re-test at 96 hours post parotitis onset.