Journal of clinical microbiology

Evaluation of diagnostic markers for measles virus infection in the context of an outbreak in Spain.

PMID 16207972


A measles outbreak occurred from January to July 2003 in Spain, despite the fact that the Plan of Eradication of Measles and its surveillance program had been set up in 2001. Different diagnostic markers for measles virus infection were compared for 246 patients in tests of serum, urine, and pharyngeal exudate specimens. Measles virus immunoglobulin M (IgM) and IgG and rubella virus and parvovirus IgM levels in serum were assayed. Multiplex PCR was done on urine, serum, and pharyngeal exudates, and isolation of measles virus in the B 95 a cell line from urine was attempted. At least one positive marker for measles virus was obtained from 165 patients (67.1%; total number of patients, 246). A total of 136 cases (82.4% of the patients showing positive markers) were diagnosed by PCR and/or isolation and IgM detection methods. The results for 27 patients (16.4%) were positive only by direct methods. The results for two patients (1.2%) were positive only by IgM detection. In the case of the first group (136 cases), the time elapsed from appearance of the rash was significantly longer than in the case of the group which was only positive by PCR. Besides, 8 out of 27 PCR-positive IgM-negative cases showed specific IgG results, suggesting either secondary vaccine failure or reinfection. Numbers resulting from PCR performed with pharyngeal exudates proved to be significantly higher than those obtained with other specimens. Phylogenetic analysis showed the presence of genotype B3. The results strongly back the World Health Organization recommendation that detection of IgM should be supplemented by PCR and isolation for the diagnosis of measles virus infection.

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