Systematic Review of Measles and Rubella Serology Studies

Risk Anal. 2016 Jul;36(7):1459-86. doi: 10.1111/risa.12430. Epub 2015 Jun 16.


Serological tests provide information about individual immunity from historical infection or immunization. Cross-sectional serological studies provide data about the age- and sex-specific immunity levels for individuals in the studied population, and these data can provide a point of comparison for the results of transmission models. In the context of developing an integrated model for measles and rubella transmission, we reviewed the existing measles and rubella literature to identify the results of national serological studies that provided cross-sectional estimates of population immunity at the time of data collection. We systematically searched PubMed, the Science Citation Index, and references we identified from relevant articles published in English. We extracted serological data for comparison to transmission model outputs. For rubella, serological studies of women of child-bearing age provide information about the potential risks of infants born with congenital rubella syndrome. Serological studies also document the loss of maternal antibodies, which occurs at different rates for the different viruses and according to the nature of the induced immunity (i.e., infection or vaccine). The serological evidence remains limited for some areas, with studies from developed countries representing a disproportionate part of the evidence. The collection and review of serological evidence can help program managers identify immunity gaps in the population, which may help them better understand the characteristics of individuals within their populations who may participate in transmission and manage risks.

Keywords: Immunization; measles; rubella; serology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Measles / epidemiology*
  • Rubella / epidemiology*
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies*
  • Vaccination


  • Antibodies, Viral