Academic journal article Central European Journal of Public Health

Seroprevalence of Rubella Antibodies among Adult Egyptian Females Aged 20-30 Years. Is There a Need for Rubella Vaccination?

Academic journal article Central European Journal of Public Health

Seroprevalence of Rubella Antibodies among Adult Egyptian Females Aged 20-30 Years. Is There a Need for Rubella Vaccination?

Article excerpt


Introduction: Egypt adopted a comprehensive strategy to eliminate measles and rubella by conducting a catch up campaign (in 2008) targeting children and young adults in the age group 10-19 years. This study aimed to explore the seroprevalence of rubella among females aged 20 to 30 years in order to provide the Ministry of Health with information to develop future strategies for rubella supplemental immunization activities among women of childbearing age before marriage and conception.

Methods: A total of 339 females in the age group 20 to 30 were selected. The study group comprised women who attended the central laboratory of the Ministry of Health for checking up before travelling abroad as pre-travel requirements for visa application. The collected serum samples were tested for rubella-specific IgG antibodies.

Results: The overall prevalence of rubella antibodies in the study group was 88.2%. Around 5.0% of females, who reported that they had been vaccinated, were susceptible to rubella. Age, history of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination and past history of rubella infection were considered factors associated with seropositivity for rubella.

Conclusion: The seroprevalence rate of rubella antibodies among our female study group was considered low.

Key words: seroprevalence, rubella, rubella campaigns, rubella vaccine


Rubella, also called German measles, is a mild febrile rash illness in children and adults; however, women infection early in pregnancy, particularly during the first trimester can severely affect the foetus resulting in miscarriage, foetal death, or an infant bom with a combination of disabling conditions collectively called congenital rubella syndrome (CRS), which includes heart disease, blindness and deafness (1).

WHO reports reveal that a minimum of 100,000 cases of CRS occur annually worldwide, which makes rubella a leading cause of preventable congenital defects. The CRS burden is highest in South East Asia (approximately 48%) and African regions (approximately 38%) (2, 3).

Safe and effective rubella vaccines have been available since 1969. However, until the 1990s, developed countries primarily used rubella vaccines, because the disease burden caused by rubella virus had not been documented sufficiently in the developing world, and because of the additional cost of the rubella vaccine component when combined with Measles and Rubella (MR) or Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine and concern that the risk for CRS might increase if high vaccination coverage could not be achieved and maintained. Low coverage might result in increased virus circulation, which could increase the average age of rubella infection for females from childhood to the childbearing years (4). Rubella vaccine was introduced into the Egyptian routine programme in 1999 in the form of MMR administered at the 18 months of age (5). Measles has long been a recognized public health problem in Egypt, but the burden of rubella and CRS has been underappreciated until recently. In 2002, Egypt established a goal to eliminate measles and rubella and to prevent CRS by 2010. Large-scale rubella and measles outbreaks in 2005-2007, however, made it difficult for Egypt to achieve the 2010 goals, and accordingly the Egyptian Ministry of Health (MOH) adopted a comprehensive strategy to eliminate rubella and measles and to rapidly prevent their transmission in Egypt by conducting a national catch up immunization campaign in 2008-2009 targeting 36 million children, adolescents and young adults from 2 to 19 years. Subsequently the number of the confirmed cases of measles and rubella in 2009 and 2010 were the lowest ever reported (5). Catch up campaigns have been previously and successfully implemented in different countries. In Iran, the targeted population for catch up campaign for measles and rubella was between the age group of 5-25 years old (6), while in Costa Rica the targeted group was 15-39 years (7). …

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