Background: Measles virus will continue to exist after certification of global eradication as virus stocks and infectious materials held in laboratories, in persistently and chronically infected individuals, and possibly in undetected foci of transmission. A literature search was undertaken to identify and evaluate the main risks for reintroduction of measles transmission in the absence of universal measles immunization.
Methods: A qualitative risk assessment was conducted following a series of literature searches using the PubMed database.
Results: If the criteria for global certification of eradication are stringent and require rigorous validation, then the risk of undetected measles transmission after certification is very low. Risk of unintentional reintroduction from any source, including persistent infections and laboratory materials is low to very low but depends on the extent of measles vaccine use. If immunization levels decrease, measles will become a credible agent for bioterrorism through intentional release.
Conclusions: Posteradication risks are low and should not deter any attempt at measles eradication. More information on measles transmission dynamics and the role of atypical infections is required to determine requirements for global certification of eradication. Posteradication risks would be minimized through development and implementation of an international risk management strategy, including requirements for a posteradication vaccine stockpile.
© The Author 2011. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. All rights reserved.