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J Paediatr Child Health. 2000 Oct;36(5):418-21.

Serological survey of measles and rubella immunity in Sydney preschool children.

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Division of General Practice, Central Sydney Area Health Service, New South Wales, Australia.



To estimate the prevalence of serological evidence of immunity to measles and rubella in preschool children in central and southern Sydney (NSW, Australia) and the prevalence of immunity in children with either documented or parentally reported immunization.


Geographical cluster random sampling was used to select children aged between 18 and 60 months to participate in the present study. Standardized interviews obtained information on each child's reported (by parents) immunization status and documentary evidence of immunization was recorded from the Personal Health Record. Venous blood was collected, serum was separated and stored frozen until tested. Measles and rubella antibodies were measured using ELISA, with either immunofluorescence or haemagglutination inhibition being used to clarify equivocal results. The study was conducted from 1992 to 1994 in conjunction with surveys of blood lead concentrations, iron status and micronutrient status.


Parents of 726 of 953 children identified between 9 and 60 months of age agreed to participate in the lead, immunization, iron status and micronutrient studies. Sufficient blood for antibody testing was obtained from 580 children, aged 18 to 62 months at the time of collection. Parents reported that 94.7% (95% confidence interval (CI) 92.7-96.5%) of children had received a measles-mumps or measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) immunization. General practitioners administered 72.8% of these immunizations. The prevalence of serological evidence of immunity to measles and rubella was 88.8% (95% CI 86.2-91.4%) and 91.9% (95% CI 89.6-94.2%). respectively. There was documented evidence of measles and rubella immunization for 88.4% (95% CI 85.7-91.2%) and 86.4% (95% CI 83.4-89.3%) of children, respectively. Of children with documented measles immunization, 91.6% (95% CI 89.2-94.0%) had detectable measles antibody. Of children with documented rubella immunization 97.2% (95% CI 95.8-98.6%) had detectable rubella antibody.


Measles and rubella immunization rates in central and southern Sydney are relatively high and most of these immunizations are provided by the private sector. Immunity to rubella in children with documented rubella immunization is at the level that would be expected from seroconversion studies. Immunity to measles in children with documented measles immunization is slightly lower than expected from seroconversion studies, highlighting the need for the second MMR immunization in preschool children, as well as making near universal immunization imperative if this disease is to be eradicated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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