Measles lessons in an anti-vaccination era: Public health is a social duty, not a political option

L. Lancella, C. Di Camillo, A. C. Vittucci, E. Boccuzzi, E. Bozzola, A. Villani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: Measles virus, member of the genus Morbillivirus in the family Paramyxoviridae, is a highly contagious human pathogen. An effective live-attenuated vaccine is available and its use has the potential to eradicate the disease from the human population. Although the vaccine was introduced in national vaccination schedules, several measles outbreaks have occurred because of insufficient vaccination coverage. Since early January 2017, a new outbreak of measles in Italy has been observed. Methods: We analyzed all the patients admitted to the Emergency Department of Bambino Gesù Children Hospital of Rome from the 1st of January 2017 to the end of May 2017 and discharged with diagnosis of suspected or confirmed measles or admitted to the Pediatric and Infectious Disease Unit. For each confirmed case, demographic data, vaccination history, exposure to source case, clinical presentation, date of onset of symptoms, hospitalization, laboratory test results, complications and therapy were collected. Results: From the 1st of January 2017 to the 31st of May 2017, we enrolled 139 patients who were conducted to the Emergency Department of Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital because of measles: 33 patients were discharged with the diagnosis of suspected measles by clinical manifestations; 33 discharged with the diagnosis of confirmed measles by laboratory tests and 73 were admitted to the Pediatric and Infectious Disease Unit. Seven patients, who were exposed to mothers with measles, were admitted to receive treatment with Measles Immune Globulin intravenously. Among the 66 patients admitted to the hospital with measles, 31 cases (47%) occurred in unvaccinated individuals who were age-eligible for measles vaccination; 29 (44%) were infants too young to be vaccinated; only five patients (8%) received one dose of measles-containing vaccine. Out of the 66 patients, 35 (53%) developed complications. Acute respiratory failure was the most reported complications (20%). Death, due to multiorgan failure by measles, occurred in one 9-girl-year-age patient with genetic disorders who was unvaccinated. Conclusions: Measles still represents a serious public health problem worldwide. Vaccination against measles is safe, effective, and cost-effective. High vaccination coverage (>95%) with two doses of measles vaccine is crucial to elimination. Health care professionals play an important role in vaccination uptake and prevention of measles spread during an outbreak.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102
JournalItalian Journal of Pediatrics
Volume43
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 15 2017

Keywords

  • Measles
  • Public health
  • Vaccination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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