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Bull World Health Organ. 1991; 69(2): 213–219.
PMCID: PMC2393090

Measles epidemic in Harare, Zimbabwe, despite high measles immunization coverage rates.


Despite rapidly increasing measles immunization coverage in Harare city, measles remains endemic, and regular outbreaks occur. The most recent occurred in 1988, when the measles immunization coverage was 83%. We have carried out a retrospective study of the clinical and epidemiological features of this outbreak to assess whether the present immunization policy needs to be changed. Of 4357 cases of measles seen at primary health care centres and hospitals in Harare during the outbreak, 1399 (32%) were severe or involved complications that required hospital admission. The peak incidence occurred among under-2-year-olds, followed by that among 5-7-year-olds. Poor nutritional status was significantly more frequent among children who were hospitalized and among those who died. A total of 59% of all cases aged 9-59 months had documented evidence of measles immunization. The most frequent complications, which occurred most often among under-5-year-olds, were diarrhoea with dehydration, pneumonia, laryngotracheobronchitis, and convulsions, which together affected 56% of hospitalized cases. The hospital case fatality rate was low (1.43%). In Harare, measles transmission remains a problem, despite high measles immunization coverage rates; the failure rate for the standard Schwarz measles vaccine also appears to be high. There is a need to reduce the number of measles cases among under-9-month-olds and young children. Further studies into alternative measles vaccines and schedules are required.

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Selected References

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