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PLoS One. 2013 Jul 9;8(7):e68909. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0068909. Print 2013.

Epidemiology of subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) in Germany from 2003 to 2009: a risk estimation.

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Department of Public Health, Bavarian Health and Food Safety Authority, Oberschleissheim, Germany.


Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) is a fatal long-term complication of measles infection. We performed an estimation of the total number of SSPE cases in Germany for the period 2003 to 2009 and calculated the risk of SSPE after an acute measles infection. SSPE cases were collected from the Surveillance Unit for Rare Paediatric Diseases in Germany and the Institute of Virology and Immunobiology at the University of Würzburg. The total number of SSPE cases was estimated by capture-recapture analysis. For the period 2003 to 2009, 31 children with SSPE who were treated at German hospitals were identified. The capture-recapture estimate was 39 cases (95% confidence interval: 29.2-48.0). The risk of developing SSPE for children contracting measles infection below 5 years of age was calculated as 1∶1700 to 1∶3300. This risk is in the same order of magnitude as the risk of a fatal acute measles infection.

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