The epidemiology of rubella disease in Ethiopia: data from the measles case-based surveillance system

J Infect Dis. 2011 Jul:204 Suppl 1:S239-42. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jir120.


Background: Rubella is usually a mild rash illness. However, when a woman contracts rubella early in pregnancy, serious consequences may occur, including birth defects known as congenital rubella syndrome (CRS). Information is limited on the epidemiology of rubella and CRS in Ethiopia.

Method: Rubella cases reported through the measles case-based surveillance system during 2004-2009 were analyzed.

Results: A total of 8212 samples were tested for rubella immunoglobulin (Ig) M, and 992 (12.1%) of these specimens had test results that were positive for rubella IgM. The age distribution of patients with rubella-positive cases ranged from 3 months to 44 years. The majority (94.7%) of the cases were in individuals <15 years of age. The proportion of positive specimens from urban areas (19.4%) was higher than that from rural areas (11.6%).

Conclusions: Rubella is endemic in Ethiopia and mainly occurs among children and young adolescents. To better understand the burden of rubella and CRS, and to develop a national strategy for rubella control in Ethiopia, CRS surveillance will need to be established, and appropriate studies need to be conducted.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Ethiopia / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin M / blood
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Measles / epidemiology
  • Population Surveillance
  • Rubella / epidemiology*
  • Rubella Syndrome, Congenital / epidemiology
  • Rubella virus / immunology
  • Seasons
  • Young Adult


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Immunoglobulin M