Factors contributing to measles transmission during an outbreak in Kamwenge District, Western Uganda, April to August 2015.

Research paper by Fred F Nsubuga, Lilian L Bulage, Immaculate I Ampeire, Joseph K B JKB Matovu, Simon S Kasasa, Patricia P Tanifum, Alex Ario AA Riolexus, Bao-Ping BP Zhu

Indexed on: 10 Jan '18Published on: 10 Jan '18Published in: BMC Infectious Diseases


In April 2015, Kamwenge District, western Uganda reported a measles outbreak. We investigated the outbreak to identify potential exposures that facilitated measles transmission, assess vaccine effectiveness (VE) and vaccination coverage (VC), and recommend prevention and control measures.For this investigation, a probable case was defined as onset of fever and generalized maculopapular rash, plus ≥1 of the following symptoms: Coryza, conjunctivitis, or cough. A confirmed case was defined as a probable case plus identification of measles-specific IgM in serum. For case-finding, we reviewed patients' medical records and conducted in-home patient examination. In a case-control study, we compared exposures of case-patients and controls matched by age and village of residence. For children aged 9 m-5y, we estimated VC using the percent of children among the controls who had been vaccinated against measles, and calculated VE using the formula, VE = 1 - ORM-H, where ORM-H was the Mantel-Haenszel odds ratio associated with having a measles vaccination history.We identified 213 probable cases with onset between April and August, 2015. Of 23 blood specimens collected, 78% were positive for measles-specific IgM. Measles attack rate was highest in the youngest age-group, 0-5y (13/10,000), and decreased as age increased. The epidemic curve indicated sustained propagation in the community. Of the 50 case-patients and 200 controls, 42% of case-patients and 12% of controls visited health centers during their likely exposure period (ORM-H = 6.1; 95% CI = 2.7-14). Among children aged 9 m-5y, VE was estimated at 70% (95% CI: 24-88%), and VC at 75% (95% CI: 67-83%). Excessive crowding was observed at all health centers; no patient triage-system existed.The spread of measles during this outbreak was facilitated by patient mixing at crowded health centers, suboptimal VE and inadequate VC. We recommended emergency immunization campaign targeting children <5y in the affected sub-counties, as well as triaging and isolation of febrile or rash patients visiting health centers.