Lack of evidence of measles virus shedding in people with inapparent measles virus infections

J Infect Dis. 2004 May 1;189 Suppl 1:S165-70. doi: 10.1086/377715.


Serological evidence of measles virus infection has been detected among people exposed to measles who do not exhibit classical clinical symptoms. Throat swabs, lymphocytes, and serum and urine samples were collected from contacts of individuals with confirmed measles 12-16 days after exposure, during measles outbreaks occurring in 1998. Follow-up serum samples were drawn 2 weeks later. Samples were tested for measles IgM antibody by enzyme immunoassays and plaque reduction neutralization testing. Virus isolation and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction testing was attempted for all samples. None of the 133 contacts developed classical measles disease; 11 (8%) had serological evidence of infection. Duration of exposure of >or=3 h was the only significant risk factor for developing serological response (24% vs. 4% among contacts exposed for 1-2 h; relative risk, 6.0; 95% confidence interval, 1.9-19.2). None of the 133 contacts had virological evidence of infection by culture or polymerase chain reaction. We found no evidence that persons with inapparent measles virus infections shed measles virus.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood*
  • Contact Tracing
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin M / blood
  • Lymphocytes / virology
  • Measles / immunology
  • Measles / transmission
  • Measles / virology*
  • Measles virus / genetics
  • Measles virus / immunology
  • Measles virus / isolation & purification*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pharynx / virology
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Respiratory System / virology
  • Risk Factors
  • Urine / virology
  • Virus Shedding*


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Immunoglobulin M