Waning of maternal antibodies against measles suggests a large window of susceptibility in infants in lao people’s Democratic republic

Phonepaseuth Khampanisong, Maude Pauly, Phonethipsavanh Nouanthong, Molly A. Vickers, Siriphone Virachith, Kinnaly Xaydalasouk, Antony P. Black, Claude P. Muller, Judith M. Hübschen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: Measles is an endemic but largely neglected disease in Lao People’s Democratic Republic. New-borns are protected by maternal antibodies, but antibody waning before measles vaccination at 9 months of age leaves infants susceptible to infection. In this study, the susceptibility window of infants was determined to generate scientific evidence to assess the national measles immunization strategy. Methods: Between 2015 and 2016, demographic data, medical history, and blood samples were collected from 508 mother-child pairs at the provincial hospital in Vientiane. The samples were screened with a commercial kit detecting anti-measles IgG antibodies. Results: The large majority (95.7%) of the mothers were seropositive for anti-measles IgG and antibody titers of the mothers and infants were highly correlated (p < 0.01). While at birth 97.7% of the infants were seropositive, seropositivity rates decreased to 74.2% two months later to reach only 28.2% four months after birth (p < 0.01). Just before the first dose of the measles-rubella vaccine, scheduled at 9 months of age, was actually given, less than 14% of the infants were seropositive. Conclusion: This alarmingly wide susceptibility gap due to rapid maternal antibody decay leaves infants at risk of measles infection and serious disease complications. A high herd immunity is crucial to protect young infants and can be achieved through improved routine vaccination coverage and (expanded age group) supplementary immunization activities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1316
JournalPathogens
Volume10
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Oct 2021

Keywords

  • Lao PDR
  • Maternal antibodies
  • Measles
  • Seropositivity
  • Waning

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