Serological and molecular epidemiology of measles virus outbreaks reported in Ethiopia during 2000-2004

W. Nigatu, D. J. Nokes, A. Afework, David Brown, F. T. Cutts, Li Jin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Twenty-eight outbreaks in six regions and two major cities in Ethiopia from 2000 to 2004 were investigated, with the collection of 207 venous blood and/or oral fluid samples. Measles diagnosis was confirmed by detection of measles-specific IgM and/or detection of measles virus by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Of 176 suspected cases tested for specific measles IgM, 142 (81%) were IgM positive. Suspected cases in vaccinated children were much less likely to be laboratory confirmed than in unvaccinated children (42% vs. 83%, P < 0.0001). Of 197 samples analyzed by RT-PCR measles virus genome was detected in 84 (43%). A total of 58 wild-type measles viruses were characterized by nucleic acid sequence analysis of the nucleoprotein (N) and hemagglutinin (H) genes. Two recognized genotypes (D4 and B3) were identified. Each outbreak comprised only a single genotype and outbreaks of each genotype tended to occur in distinct geographical locations. B3 was first observed in 2002, and has now been the cause of three documented outbreaks near to the border of Sudan. D4 genotype was previously observed in an outbreak in 1999 and occurs in more diverse locations throughout the country. These data yield insights into geographical and age-related sources of continued transmission. Refinement of measles control measures might include targeting older age groups (5-14 years) and strengthening routine immunization particularly where importation of cases is a concern.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1648-1655
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Medical Virology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2006


  • Ethiopia
  • Measles outbreaks
  • Serological and molecular investigation


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