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Occup Med (Lond). 2003 Sep;53(6):398-402.

Prevalence of measles susceptibility among health care workers in a UK hospital. Does the UK need to introduce a measles policy for its health care workers?

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  • 1Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, 61 Colindale Avenue, London NW9 5EQ, UK. emma.ziegler@suht.swest.nhs.uk



First, to determine the prevalence of measles non-immunity in a group of health care workers (HCW), and secondly, to investigate what pre-employment screening for measles is carried out by NHS occupational health departments.


Two hundred and eighteen HCWs with patient contact on the medical wards at Addenbrooke's hospital provided an oral fluid sample and answered a questionnaire. A postal survey of Association of National Health Occupational Physicians Society (ANHOPS) members was conducted to assess whether UK NHS Trusts identify measles non-immune individuals.


Of the HCWs tested, 3.3% of were found to be non-immune to measles (both oral fluid and confirmatory serum sample were measles IgG negative). Less than one third of a sample of 80 NHS occupational health departments enquired about measles immunity.


The prevalence of measles non-immune health care workers is low, but with a fall in uptake of MMR immunization and increased likelihood of measles outbreaks, it is important to identify these at-risk individuals. Serum testing is the most reliable method to use. Oral fluid testing and history of measles disease or vaccination are unreliable methods of identifying non-immune individuals. To achieve complete immunity, it is cost-effective to screen and then offer immunization. NHS trusts vary greatly in their measles policies for health care workers.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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