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 General Information: Measles
Genotyping Results United States
Genotyping Results: International
Measles Lab Manual (English)
Measles Lab Manual (Español)
Vero/SLAM cell line
Specimens for Measles Virus Isolation
Genetic Analysis
Guidelines for Naming
Strains or Sequences
Measles Strain Banks
 Genetic Characterization
and Sequencing

The Measles Virus Laboratory

This website is intended to provide information on measles diagnostics (serology), viral culture methods, RT-PCR and sequencing (viral surveillance) to state public health laboratories and World Health Organization (WHO) regional network laboratories, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), as well as epidemiologists who are responsible for measles surveillance and investigation of outbreaks.

Consult the Measles Lab Manual for guidelines on the submission of samples and measles testing performed at the Measles Virus Laboratory.


The Measles Virus Laboratory was formed in June 1989 in response to a resurgence of measles in the United States. A sensitive and specific IgM antibody assay was developed to assist in the laboratory confirmation of suspected measles cases. In addition, viral isolates were collected for genetic analysis and characterization. The information from the characterization of viruses analyzed during the 1989-1991 resurgence of measles and the ongoing viral surveillance throughout the 1990s was important data that helped to document the elimination of endemic transmission of measles in the United States.

Responsibility for rubella and mumps viruses was transferred to the Measles Virus Section in 1997-1998. After a major reorganization was officially approved in March 2007, the Measles team currently operates within the Measles/ Mumps/Rubella and Herpesviruses Laboratory Branch (MMRHLB), Division of Viral Diseases, Coordinating Center for Infectious Diseases.

National Reference Laboratory

The Measles Laboratory provides serologic testing for measles as a national reference laboratory and provides technical assistance to state public health laboratories for the collection and shipment of clinical samples for measles RT-PCR and sequencing. The Measles laboratory team works closely with the Epidemiology Branch to coordinate laboratory support for local and state public health laboratories during outbreaks and investigations of suspected spread cases following an importation of measles.

Role as Regional and Global Network Laboratory

The Measles Laboratory acts both as a Regional Reference Laboratory within the laboratory network of the Pan American Health Organization and as a Global Specialized Laboratory in the Global Measles and Rubella Laboratory Network of the World Health Organization.(exit)

Laboratory surveillance of measles viruses and molecular epidemiology

Following the first meeting for measles molecular epidemiology in 1998, the recommended methods for viral analysis and the nomenclature for designating measles genotypes (based on nucleotide sequence variations among measles viruses) were published in a World Health Organization publication, Weekly Epidemiologic Record.

Nomenclature for designating measles genotypes
1998pdf(exit) | 2006 updatepdf(exit)

Tracking measles transmission through viral surveillance of genotypes has become a priority activity in many regions of the world. The global measles/rubella laboratory network under the auspices of the WHO is an important component of national immunization programs worldwide in the countries and regions with measles elimination or measles mortality reduction goals.

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Other sources of information for Measles surveillance
item Pan American Health Organization

Central Public Health Laboratory, UK

item Canada: Laboratory Centre for Disease Control
item Chile: Surveillance
item World Health Organization
Measles Initiative
Note: The links in this box lead outside the CDC site. Any links from these sites to nonfederal organizations links do not constitute an endorsement of these organizations or their programs by CDC or the federal government, and none should be inferred. CDC is not responsible for the content of the individual organization Web pages found at these links.

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This page last reviewed October 1, 2008

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