Factors Associated with Measles Transmission in the United States during the Postelimination Era

Paul A. Gastañaduy, Sebastian Funk, Benjamin A. Lopman, Paul A. Rota, Manoj Gambhir, Bryan Grenfell, Prabasaj Paul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Importance: Measles cases and outbreaks continue to occur in the United States after the introduction of measles from endemic settings. Objective: To discern the factors associated with measles transmission in the United States after measles had been eliminated. Design, Setting, and Participants: This cross-sectional study was conducted from January 1, 2001, to December 31, 2017, in the United States among US residents and international visitors with confirmed measles. A maximum likelihood algorithm that uses the observed dates of rash onset and the known distribution of the serial interval (time between symptom onset in related consecutive cases) was applied to outbreak notification data to estimate the effective reproduction number (R), or the mean number of new infections generated per case. Transmissibility was assessed by comparing R based on the characteristics of primary and secondary cases of measles. Exposures: Measles virus. Main Outcomes and Measures: Effective reproduction number (R), or the mean number of successful transmission events per case of measles (ie, the mean number of persons to whom each patient with measles spreads measles). Results: A total of 2218 individuals with confirmed measles cases (1025 female, 1176 male, and 17 sex not reported; median age, 15 years [range, 0-89 years]) reported from 2001 to 2017 were evaluated. Among patients who received no doses of measles vaccine, R was 0.76 (95% CI, 0.71-0.81); among patients who received 1 dose of measles vaccine, R was 0.17 (95% CI, 0.11-0.26); among patients who received 2 doses or more of measles vaccine, R was 0.27 (95% CI, 0.17-0.39); and among patients with unknown vaccination status, R was 0.52 (95% CI, 0.44-0.60). Among patients born before 1957, R was 0.35 (95% CI, 0.20-0.58), and among those born on or after 1957, R was 0.64 (95% CI, 0.61-0.68). R was higher when primary and secondary cases of measles were patients aged 5 to 17 years (0.36 [95% CI, 0.31-0.42]) compared with assortative transmission in other age groups (<1 year, 0.14 [95% CI, 0.10-0.20]; 1-4 years, 0.25 [95% CI, 0.20-0.30]; 18-29 years, 0.19 [95% CI, 0.15-0.24]; 30-49 years, 0.15 [95% CI, 0.11-0.20]; ≥50 years, 0.04 [95% CI, 0.01-0.10]). Conclusions and Relevance: The findings of this study support having high targets for 2-dose measles vaccine coverage, particularly among school-aged children in the United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)56-62
Number of pages7
JournalJAMA Pediatrics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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