Molecular epidemiology of measles virus: Identification of pathways of transmission and implications for measles elimination

Jennifer S. Rota*, Janet L. Heath, Paul A. Rota, Gail E. King, Maria L. Celma, Juan Carabaña, Rafael Fernandez-Muñoz, David Brown, Li Jin, William J. Bellini

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    164 Citations (Scopus)


    The nucleotide sequences of either the hemagglutinin or nucleoprotein genes from wild type measles viruses isolated in the United States between 1989 and 1992 differed by <0.5%. This suggests that the majority of viruses associated with resurgence of measles in the United States belonged to a single indigenous genotype. In contrast, wild type viruses isolated from sporadic outbreaks of measles in the United States during 1994 were genetically heterogeneous. These viruses were more closely related to wild type viruses previously circulating in Europe, Africa, or Japan and were epidemiologically linked to importations or no known source. In addition to demonstrating the utility of genetic analysis in understanding the epidemiology of measles, these data suggest that the transmission of the indigenous virus was interrupted after the 1989-1992 epidemic. Measures to further reduce the incidence of measles in the United States should include efforts to control importation and subsequent spread of measles.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)32-37
    Number of pages6
    JournalJournal of Infectious Diseases
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1996

    Bibliographical note

    Funding Information:
    Received 20 June 1995; revised 21 August 1995. Presented in part: Ninth International Conference on Negative Strand Viruses, Estoril, Portugal, 2-7 October 1994 (abstract P224). Financial support: Fondo de Investigaciones Sanitarias (94/0555 to M.L.C. and DGICYT PB 920739 to R.F-.M.). J.C. is a recipient of a fellowship award from Consejeria de Salud de la Comunidad Autonoma de Madrid. Nucleotide sequences are available from GenBank under accession numbers L46725-53, L46756-61, L46763-64, and L46766-67. Reprints or correspondence: Jennifer S. Rota, MS G-17, REVB, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Rd. NE, Atlanta, GA 30333. * Deceased.


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