Using seroprevalence and immunisation coverage data to estimate the global burden of Congenital Rubella Syndrome, 1996-2010: A systematic review

Emilia Vynnycky, Elisabeth J. Adams, Felicity T. Cutts, Susan E. Reef, Ann Mari Navar, Emily Simons, Lay Myint Yoshida, David Brown, Charlotte Jackson, Peter M. Strebel, Alya J. Dabbagh

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Background: The burden of Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS) is typically underestimated in routine surveillance. Updated estimates are needed following the recent WHO position paper on rubella and recent GAVI initiatives, funding rubella vaccination in eligible countries. Previous estimates considered the year 1996 and only 78 (developing) countries. Methods: We reviewed the literature to identify rubella seroprevalence studies conducted before countries introduced rubella-containing vaccination (RCV). These data and the estimated vaccination coverage in the routine schedule and mass campaigns were incorporated in mathematical models to estimate the CRS incidence in 1996 and 2000-2010 for each country, region and globally. Results: The estimated CRS decreased in the three regions (Americas, Europe and Eastern Mediterranean) which had introduced widespread RCV by 2010, reaching <2 per 100,000 live births (the Americas and Europe) and 25 (95% CI 4-61) per 100,000 live births (the Eastern Mediterranean). The estimated incidence in 2010 ranged from 90 (95% CI: 46-195) in the Western Pacific, excluding China, to 116 (95% CI: 56-235) and 121 (95% CI: 31-238) per 100,000 live births in Africa and SE Asia respectively. Highest numbers of cases were predicted in Africa (39,000, 95% CI: 18,000-80,000) and SE Asia (49,000, 95% CI: 11,000-97,000). In 2010, 105,000 (95% CI: 54,000-158,000) CRS cases were estimated globally, compared to 119,000 (95% CI: 72,000-169,000) in 1996. Conclusions: Whilst falling dramatically in the Americas, Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean after vaccination, the estimated CRS incidence remains high elsewhere. Well-conducted seroprevalence studies can help to improve the reliability of these estimates and monitor the impact of rubella vaccination.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0149160
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
EA and EV were funded by a grant provided by the World Health Organization. AMNB was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in support of the Global Burden of Disease project and the Child Health Epidemiology Reference Group. We thank Nigel Gay, Ben Cooper and Albert Jan van Hoek for helpful discussions. We are grateful to Kim Thompson, Stephen Cochi, Sue Chu and Konstantinos Angelis for helpful comments on a previous version of the manuscript. We also thank the three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. We are grateful to the following for providing access to data: James Nokes, Caroline Shulman, Richard Pebody (on behalf of the European Sero-epidemiology Network) and John Edmunds.

Publisher Copyright:
© This is an open access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication.


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