Laboratory Testing for Mumps


There are two laboratory tests available for mumps testing, a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test which is a confirmatory test and serology (IgM and IgG) test.

At the first health care provider visit and after consultation and approval from KDHE, a buccal swab should be collected for PCR if within the appropriate timeframe.

  • The buccal swab should be sent to the Kansas Health and Environmental Laboratories (KHEL) for PCR testing.
    • For KHEL PCR testing, prior authorization is required from KDHE.  Contact KDHE’s epidemiology hotline at 877-427-7317 before shipping a buccal swab specimen.
    • Buccal swab: Collect with a commercially supplied, sterile Dacron or polyester-tipped swab with a plastic or aluminum shaft that is placed in Viral Transport Media (VTM).
      • If possible, collect within 3 days of parotitis onset.
      • Do not collect more than 5 days past parotitis onset.
      • Do not use cotton or calcium alginate-tipped swabs or those with wooden shafts.
      • The buccal cavity is the space near the upper rear molars between the cheek and teeth.  Massage the parotid (salivary) gland for 30 seconds and then swab the area between the cheek and gum by sweeping the swab near the upper molar and lower molar area.
      • Refer to Illustration of Parotid Gland and Instructions for further guidance (https://www.cdc.gov/mumps/lab/detection-mumps.html).
    • Specimens are to be refrigerated and shipped in insulated boxes with cold packs.  Refer to KHEL instructions for viral specimen packaging at:
    • Properly packaged and approved specimens should be mailed to:
             Kansas Health and Environmental Laboratories
             Attention:  Virology/Serology Unit
             6810 SE. Dwight Street
             Topeka, KS 66620
  • Serology specimens should be sent to a commercial reference laboratory for IgM and IgG titers.  KDHE recommends serology testing in persons that are not vaccinated.  Serology results in vaccinated persons can be difficult to interpret.
    • Blood, 3-5 mL collected in serum clot separator tubes, collected at two different times during illness (acute and concalescent).
      • First:  Collect within 3-7 days after parotitis onset
        • If first specimen is collected <3 days after parotitis onset in an unvaccinated person, collect a second IgM specimen 5-7 days after parotitis onset.
      • Second:  Collect if the first IgM test is negative.  Collect 2 weeks after first specimen.