The devastation caused by periodic measles outbreaks motivated efforts over more than a century to mathematically model measles disease and transmission. Following the identification of rubella, which similarly presents with fever and rash and causes congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) in infants born to women first infected with rubella early in pregnancy, modelers also began to characterize rubella disease and transmission. Despite the relatively large literature, no comprehensive review to date provides an overview of dynamic transmission models for measles and rubella developed to support risk and policy analysis. This systematic review of the literature identifies quantitative measles and/or rubella dynamic transmission models and characterizes key insights relevant for prospective modeling efforts. Overall, measles and rubella represent some of the relatively simplest viruses to model due to their ability to impact only humans and the apparent life-long immunity that follows survival of infection and/or protection by vaccination, although complexities arise due to maternal antibodies and heterogeneity in mixing and some models considered potential waning immunity and reinfection. This review finds significant underreporting of measles and rubella infections and widespread recognition of the importance of achieving and maintaining high population immunity to stop and prevent measles and rubella transmission. The significantly lower transmissibility of rubella compared to measles implies that all countries could eliminate rubella and CRS by using combination of measles- and rubella-containing vaccines (MRCVs) as they strive to meet regional measles elimination goals, which leads to the recommendation of changing the formulation of national measles-containing vaccines from measles only to MRCV as the standard of care.
Keywords: Measles; model; rubella.
© 2016 Society for Risk Analysis.