Measles outbreak in Macedonia: epidemiological, clinical and laboratory findings and identification of susceptible cohorts.
- Clinical and Applied Virology
OBJECTIVES: Despite a 92-99% national vaccination coverage since 2000, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia experienced a large measles outbreak between 2010 and 2011. Here we investigate the characteristics of patients hospitalized during this outbreak at the Clinic of Infectious Diseases in Skopje. METHODS: Epidemiological, clinical and laboratory data of 284 measles patients, including 251 from Skopje (43.80% of the 573 reported cases) and 33 from elsewhere in Macedonia were collected. RESULTS: The most affected age groups were children up to 4 years of age and adolescents/adults of 15 years and older. Most patients were unvaccinated (n=263, 92.61%) and many had non-Macedonian nationalities (n=156, 54.93%) or belonged to the Roma ethnicity (n=73, 25.70%). Bronchopneumonia and diarrhea were the most common complications. Eighty-two out of 86 tested patients (95.35%) had measles-specific IgM antibodies. The outbreak was caused by the measles variant D4-Hamburg. CONCLUSIONS: The epidemic identified pockets of susceptibles in Skopje and indicated that additional vaccination opportunities in particular for people with non-Macedonian nationality and traveler communities are warranted to ensure efficient measles control in Macedonia. The high attack rate among children of less than 1 year suggests that vaccination before 12 months of age should be considered in high risk settings.