Skip directly to site content Skip directly to page options Skip directly to A-Z link Skip directly to A-Z link Skip directly to A-Z link
Volume 22, Number 1—January 2016
Letter

Measles Outbreak among Adults, Northeastern China, 2014

Cite This Article

To the Editor: In 2005, the World Health Organization (WHO) proposed to eliminate measles in the Western Pacific Region by 2012, and in 2006, China began a 6-year measles elimination campaign. The strategy included a routine 2-dose measles-containing vaccine (MCV) for children 8 months and 18–23 months of age, supplemented by nationwide vaccination activities in 2010 for children born during 1996–2010 (1). As a result, China’s measles incidence rate has dropped sharply since 2008 and reached its lowest level (0.46 cases/100,000 population) in 2012 (2). However, the rate has risen again since 2012; in 2014, incidence was 3.88 cases/100,000 population (3). Shenyang, a hub city in northeastern China, experienced a massive measles outbreak in 2014, and we analyzed the causes and characteristics of this outbreak.

Shenyang Center of Disease Control reported 2,058 confirmed measles cases (1,447 laboratory diagnosed, 611 clinically diagnosed) in 2014 (25.02 cases/100,000 population), much higher than that reported in Shenyang in 2013 (2.33/100,000). Most cases occurred in children 0–1 years of age (487 cases; 1,145.77/100,000), followed by persons 25–30 (227 cases; 28.57/100,000), 30–35 (203 cases; 32.42/100,000), and 35–40 (203 cases; 35.02/100,000) years of age. Among all 2,058 confirmed cases, 438 patients were hospitalized because of measles complications; no deaths were reported.

Within Shenyang, Kangping district had the highest confirmed measles incidence rate (80.59 cases/100,000 persons), followed by Tiexi (38.08/100,000) and Faku (32.2/100,000) districts. The remaining confirmed cases occurred in other districts.

Of the 1,207 adults with confirmed measles, migrant workers (640 cases) and farmers (234 cases) accounted for 72.4% of total cases. All confirmed measles-infected adults were surveyed by questionnaire; 93.0% did not recall receiving MCV or had no history of MCV. All 44 measles virus samples genotyped were genotype H1a.

Figure

Thumbnail of Geographic (A) and age (B) distributions of measles patients, Shenyang, China, 2014.

Figure. Geographic (A) and age (B) distributions of measles patients, Shenyang, China, 2014.

The most notable characteristic of this outbreak was that adults accounted for more than half of reported cases (Figure). Shenyang conducted citywide supplementary vaccination activities in 2009 directed toward children born during 1995–2009, and among these cohorts (now 5–19 years of age), the incidence rate was lower in this outbreak, proving the efficiency of the supplementary vaccination activities. However, for patients >20 years of age, who were not included in the supplementary vaccination activities, the efficacy of their previous 2-dose vaccines also should have offered protection. Thus, other potential risk factors must exist.

One risk factor is the limited vaccine coverage. China started the measles vaccine plan in the 1960s, but from 1960 until the 1980s, local vaccination coverage was poor for suburban populations. In recent years, the national reported coverage of both 1-dose and 2-dose MCV have increased from <85% to >98.5% for 2-year-olds (2,4). However, a door-to-door measles questionnaire survey during an outbreak in Henan province in 2013 reported vaccine coverage of only 80%–90% (5). The reason may be that, currently, China calculates vaccine coverage using the number of vaccinated children as the numerator and the number of clinic-registered children as the denominator. This method excludes those who did not register at a community clinic (e.g., because the family breached the 1-child policy and therefore refused registration or because of lack of medical insurance) and thus resulted in higher reported coverage rates. Unvaccinated persons who missed supplementary vaccination activities also possibly became susceptible to measles.

The second characteristic was the higher incidence rates in the suburban than urban districts (Figure). In fact, the 3 districts (Kangping, Tiexi, Faku) reporting the highest incidence rates were all suburban and industrial districts. The underlying reason was the aggregation of migrant workers in these districts. Shenyang is a hub city in northeastern China where workers from the surrounding rural regions come for job opportunities. These labor workers gather at suburban and industrial districts, and ≈20% of them lack proper vaccination because of limited healthcare access during childhood. Eventually, the aggregation of these susceptible persons caused the adult epidemic in this outbreak.

Although measles incidence in China has decreased sharply since 2010, multiregion epidemics have again been reported, especially among adults, in recent years. The underlying reasons for the Shenyang outbreak in 2014 are limited vaccine coverage and aggregation of susceptible persons. This adult-centered epidemic should serve as a reminder that preventing measles in adults might play an increasing role in future measles elimination efforts.

World Health Assembly and global vaccination partners endorsed the Global Vaccine Action Plan in 2012, and WHO now aims to eliminate measles in 5 of the 6 WHO regions by 2020 (6,7); the United States first achieved this goal in 2000. However, multiple measles outbreaks were reported in recent years in countries where elimination has been achieved, such as the United States (8) and Australia (9), mainly because of transmission resulting from international travel and low vaccine coverage in some populations (10). China is the most populous country in the world, and eliminating measles in China would help prevent future global transmission events.

Top

Acknowledgments

We thank The Sixth People’s Hospital of Shenyang and Shenyang Center of Disease Control for submitting measles case report forms and 302 Military Hospital of China for virus genotyping.

This study was supported by the National Science & Technology Pillar program during the 12th five-year period: A platform research of clinic treatment on new sudden occurrence of infectious diseases in combination of Chinese traditional and Western medicine (2012ZX10004301).

Top

Ming-Xiang Zhang1, Jing-Wen Ai1, You Li, Bing-Yan Zhang, and Bin XuComments to Author 
Author affiliations: The Sixth People’s Hospital of Sheyang, Shenyang, China (M.-X. Zhang, Y. Li); Fudan University, Shanghai, China (J.-W. Ai, B.-Y. Zhang, W.-H. Zhang)

Top

References

  1. Ma  C, An  Z, Hao  L, Cairns  KL, Zhang  Y, Ma  J, Progress toward measles elimination in the People's Republic of China, 2000–2009. J Infect Dis. 2011;204(Suppl 1):S44754. DOIPubMed
  2. Ma  C, Su  QR, Hao  LX, Wen  N, Fan  CX, Cao  L, Measles epidemiology characteristics and progress toward measles elimination in China, 2012–2013. Chinese Journal of Vaccines and Immunization. 2014;20:193209.
  3. National Health and Family Planning Commission of the People’s Republic of China [cited 2015 Jul 30]. http://www.nhfpc.gov.cn/jkj/s3578/201502/847c041a3bac4c3e84 4f17309be0cabd.shtml
  4. Ma  C, He  LX, Su  QR, Ma  J, Zhang  Y, Cao  L, Measles epidemiology and progress toward measles elimination in China, 2011. Chinese Journal of Vaccines and Immunization. 2012;18:1939.
  5. Ma  C, Li  F, Zheng  X, Zhang  H, Duan  M, Yang  Y, Measles vaccine cover-age estimates in an outbreak three years after the nation-wide campaign in China: implications for measles elimination, 2013. BMC Infect Dis. 2015;15:23. DOIPubMed
  6. World Health Organization. Global measles and rubella strategic plan 2012–2020 [cited 2015 Jul 22]. http://www.who.int/immunization/newsroom/Measles_Rubella_StrategicPlan_2012_2020.pdf
  7. World Health Organization. Global vaccine action plan 2011–2020 [cited 2015 Sept 9]. http://www.who.int/immunization/global_vaccine_action_plan/GVAP_doc_2011_2020/en/
  8. McCarthy  M. Measles outbreak linked to Disney theme parks reaches five states and Mexico. BMJ. 2015;350:h436 and. DOIPubMed
  9. Najjar  Z, Hope  K, Clark  P, Nguyen  O, Rosewell  A, Conaty  S. Sustained outbreak of measles in New South Wales, 2012: risks for measles elimination in Australia. Western Pac Surveill Response J. 2014;5:14–20.
  10. Hagmann  SHF, Christenson  JC. Measles and the risk posed by international travelers at the time of elimination or post-elimination. Travel Med Infect Dis. 2015;13:12. DOIPubMed

Top

Figure

Top

Cite This Article

DOI: 10.3201/eid2201.151293

1These authors contributed equally to this article.

Related Links

Top

Table of Contents – Volume 22, Number 1—January 2016

Comments

Please use the form below to submit correspondence to the authors or contact them at the following address:

Wen-Hong Zhang, Department of Infectious Diseases, Huashan Hospital, Fudan University, 12 Wulumuqi Middle Rd, Shanghai, 200040, P.R. China

Send To

10000 character(s) remaining.

Top

Page created: December 18, 2015
Page updated: December 18, 2015
Page reviewed: December 18, 2015
The conclusions, findings, and opinions expressed by authors contributing to this journal do not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the authors' affiliated institutions. Use of trade names is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by any of the groups named above.
file_external