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Vaccines (Basel). 2019 Nov 28;7(4). pii: E199. doi: 10.3390/vaccines7040199.

Measles Virus Infection and Immunity in a Suboptimal Vaccination Coverage Setting.

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Microbiology and Virology Unit, Padova University Hospital, 35128 Padova, Italy.
Department of Molecular Medicine, University of Padova, 35121 Padova, Italy.
Department of Hygiene and Public Health, Azienda ULSS 6 Euganea, 35131 Padova, Italy.


Despite efforts to improve surveillance and vaccination coverage, measles virus (MeV) continues to cause outbreaks also in high-income countries. As the reference laboratory of the Veneto Region, Italy, we analyzed changes in population immunity, described measles outbreaks, investigated MeV genetic diversity, and evaluated cross-protection of measles vaccination against MeV epidemic strains. Like most European areas, the Veneto Region has suboptimal measles vaccination coverage and is facing a growing public mistrust of vaccination. A progressive decline of measles vaccine uptake was observed during the last decade in the Veneto Region, leading to immunity gaps in children and young adults. Measles outbreaks were caused by the same MeV genotype B3, D4, and D8 strains that were circulating in other European countries. Eleven cases of measles were observed in immunized subjects. These cases were not associated with particular MeV genotypes nor with mutations in epitopes recognized by neutralizing antibodies. Accordingly, sera from fully vaccinated subjects cross-neutralized epidemic MeV strains, including the genotypes B3, D4, and D8, with the same high efficiency demonstrated against the vaccine strain. In fully vaccinated subjects, high MeV IgG antibody titers persisted up to 30 years following vaccination. These results support the use of the current measles-containing vaccines and strategies to strengthen vaccination.


cross-protection; epidemiology; immunity; measles; neutralizing antibody; outbreak; secondary vaccine failure; vaccine hesitancy; vaccine uptake; whole-genome sequencing

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