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High number of hospitalisations and non-classical presentations: lessons learned from a measles outbreak in 2017, Belgium

  • L. Cornelissen (a1), T. Grammens (a1), S. Leenen (a2), C. Schirvel (a2), V. Hutse (a3), R. Demeester (a4), B. Swennen (a5), T. Asikainen (a1) and C. Wyndham-Thomas (a1)...

Abstract

We describe and analyse an outbreak of measles that affected Belgium early 2017. In total, 289 cases were reported, mostly (53%) in people 15 years or older. For 133 (46%) vaccination status was unknown and a further 117 (41%) were not vaccinated. According to national guidelines, 83 of the unvaccinated cases (29% of total cases) should have received minimum one dose of vaccine, but did not. One in five cases (21%) did not present with the classical triad of fever, rash and any of coryza, conjunctivitis or cough. Rash was the most sensitive symptom, being absent in only six cases. A large proportion of cases (125/289, 43%) required hospitalisation. In hospitalised patients, the most commonly observed complications were hepatic disorders (present in 58/125 hospitalised patients, 46%). Thirty-six of the cases (12%) were in healthcare workers and nosocomial spread contributed importantly to the outbreak. Older age at presentation, altered clinical presentations and presence of complications like hepatitis can delay the correct diagnosis of measles. Clinicians should maintain a high index of suspicion in any individual presenting with rash. If the elimination target is to be reached, catch-up vaccination campaigns should be intensified and target young adults and health care workers.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: L. Cornelissen, E-mail: laura.cornelissen@sciensano.be

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Both authors contributed equally and share first authorship

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References

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Keywords

High number of hospitalisations and non-classical presentations: lessons learned from a measles outbreak in 2017, Belgium

  • L. Cornelissen (a1), T. Grammens (a1), S. Leenen (a2), C. Schirvel (a2), V. Hutse (a3), R. Demeester (a4), B. Swennen (a5), T. Asikainen (a1) and C. Wyndham-Thomas (a1)...

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