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Epidemiol Infect. 2001 Apr;126(2):249-59.

The seroepidemiology of measles in Western Europe.

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National Institute of Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven, The Netherlands.


The European Regional Office of WHO has targeted measles for elimination from the region in 2007. Large national, age and sex stratified serological surveys of measles antibody were conducted in seven Western European countries from 1994-8 as part of the European Seroepidemiology Network. Three patterns were observed in the country-specific measles seroprofiles, ranging from (very) low susceptibility (four countries) to high susceptibility (one country). Susceptibility levels amongst 2-4-year-olds ranged from 2.9 to 29.8%, in 5-9-year-olds from 2.5 to 25% and 10-19-year-olds from 2.1% to 13.9%. A country's susceptibility profile was highly associated with vaccine coverage for the first dose. First dose coverage ranged from 91 to 97.5% for low susceptibility countries, 75 to 85% for intermediate susceptibility countries and 55% for the high susceptibility country. Only the high susceptibility country still reports epidemic measles. In low susceptibility countries, which have achieved or are very close to measles elimination, the priority will be to maintain high MMR vaccine coverage in all geopolitical units for both vaccine doses. In moderate susceptibility countries there is still some endemic transmission, but also risk of outbreaks as pools of susceptibles accumulate. In the high susceptibility country the priority will be to increase infant vaccine coverage and reduce regional variation in coverage levels.

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