Measles Vaccine Virus RNA in Children More Than 100 Days after Vaccination

Viruses. 2019 Jul 10;11(7):636. doi: 10.3390/v11070636.


Measles vaccines have been in use since the 1960s with excellent safety and effectiveness profiles. Limited data are available on detection of measles vaccine virus (MeVV) RNA in human subjects following vaccination. Available evidence suggests MeVV RNA can be identified up to 14 days after vaccination, with detection beyond this rare. In routine diagnostic testing, we used two real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-rPCR) assays targeting M and F genes to identify measles virus (MeV) and MeVV RNA. Confirmatory testing was performed with an N gene RT-rPCR, followed by sequence confirmation of RT-rPCR positives by semi-nested conventional RT-PCR assays targeting portions of the N, H, and L genes. We report detection and confirmation of MeVV RNA from the respiratory tract of 11 children between 100 and 800 days after most recent receipt of measles-containing vaccine. These novel findings emphasize the importance of genotyping all MeV detections and highlight the need for further work to assess whether persistent MeVV RNA represents viable virus and if transmission to close contacts can occur.

Keywords: RNA; RT-PCR; measles; measles vaccine; measles virus; measles-mumps-rubella; persistence; vaccine safety; vaccines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Measles / prevention & control*
  • Measles / virology
  • Measles Vaccine / administration & dosage*
  • Measles virus / genetics
  • Nose / virology
  • Pharynx / virology
  • Phosphoproteins / genetics
  • Phylogeny
  • RNA, Viral / analysis*
  • Respiratory System / virology*
  • Time Factors
  • Viral Proteins / genetics


  • Measles Vaccine
  • P protein, Sendai virus
  • Phosphoproteins
  • RNA, Viral
  • Viral Proteins