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Emerg Infect Dis. 1998 Jan-Mar;4(1):29-35.

Genetic diversity of wild-type measles viruses: implications for global measles elimination programs.

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30333, USA.


Wild-type measles viruses have been divided into distinct genetic groups according to the nucleotide sequences of their hemagglutinin and nucleoprotein genes. Most genetic groups have worldwide distribution; however, at least two of the groups appear to have a more limited circulation. To monitor the transmission pathways of measles virus, we observed the geographic distribution of genetic groups, as well as changes in them in a particular region over time. We found evidence of interruption of indigenous transmission of measles in the United States after 1993 and identified the sources of imported virus associated with cases and outbreaks after 1993. The pattern of measles genetic groups provided a means to describe measles outbreaks and assess the extent of virus circulation in a given area. We expect that molecular epidemiologic studies will become a powerful tool for evaluating strategies to control, eliminate, and eventually eradicate measles.

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