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Laboratory diagnosis of acute measles infections in hospitalized children in Zambia

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Laboratory diagnosis of measles infection is rarely performed in developing countries and tends to depend on clinical symptoms alone. We evaluated detection of immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibodies for confirmation of acute measles infection in Zambia. In 149 hospitalized children with clinical diagnosis of measles, IgM antibodies were detected in 88.6% (132/149). The IgM-positive rate increased with time after onset of skin rash and all samples were positive after 4 days. In addition to IgM antibody test, virus isolations from throat swabs using B95a cells were also performed. These were positive in only 20.9% (14/67), and both IgM and virus isolation in combination increased the positive rate to 92.5% (62/67). Vaccinated children had higher neutralizing (Nt) antibody responses and, among IgM-negative patients, all 4 vaccinated children had high Nt antibodies while all 10 unvaccinated children had negative or low Nt results. The IgM antibody test was proved to be a sensitive method for laboratory confirmation of measles virus infection in developing countries.

Keywords: IgM; Measles; Zambia; isolation; vaccine failure

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: 1: Virus Research Centre, National Sendai Hospital, Sendai, Japan, 2: Virology Laboratory, University Teaching Hospital, Lusaka, Zambia

Publication date: July 1, 1997

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