Background: The incidence rate of measles in China reached a nadir in 2012 after 2 supplementary immunization activities (SIAs) were undertaken in 2009 and 2010. However, the disease began re-emerging in 2013, with a high prevalence rate observed in 2013-2014 in the southern province of Guangdong. In this study, we assessed the changes that occurred in measles epidemiology during 2009-2016, particularly between 2009 and 2011 (when the influence of the SIAs were in full effect) and between 2012 and 2016 (when this influence subsided).
Methods: Data from 22,362 patients with measles diagnosed between 2009 and 2016, and whose diagnoses were confirmed clinically and/or with laboratory testing, were extracted from the National Infectious Disease Monitoring Information System. Descriptive analyses were performed, and changes in epidemiological characteristics between 2009 and 2011 and 2012-2016 were compared.
Results: There was a substantial surge in 0-8-month-old patients after 2012; the incidence rate increased from 4.0 per 100,000 population in 2011 (10.3% of the total) to 280 per 100,000 population in 2013 (32.8% of the total). Patients aged 0-6 years represented 73.4% of the total increase between 2011 and 2013. Compared with 2009-2011, adults aged ≥25 years accounted for a higher proportion of patients in 2013 and after (p < 0.01), and were highest in 2016 (31% of the patient total).
Conclusion: Despite the remarkable results achieved by SIAs in terms of providing herd immunity, the 2013 resurgence of measles revealed insufficient immunization coverage among children. Therefore routine immunization programs should be strengthened, and supplementary vaccinations targeting adults should also be contemplated.
Keywords: Child infections; China; Measles; Measles-mumps-rubella; Supplementary immunization; Vaccine.