Risk of aseptic meningitis after measles, mumps,and rubella vaccine in UK children

E. Miller*, P. Farrington, M. Goldracre, S. Pugh, A. Colville, A. Flower, J. Nash, L. Macfarlane, R. Tettmar

*Corresponding author for this work

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    Abstract

    Cases of aseptic meningitis associated with measles/mumps/rubella vaccine were sought in thirteen UK health districts following a reported cluster in Nottingham which suggested a risk of 1 in 4000 doses, substantially higher than previous estimates based on cases reported by paediatricians (4 per million). Cases were ascertained by obtaining vaccination records of children with aseptic meningitis diagnosed from cerebrospinal fluid samples submitted to Public Health Laboratories or discharged from hospital with a diagnosis of viral meningitis. Both methods identified vaccination 15-35 days before onset as a significant risk factor and therefore indicative of a causal association. With both, half the aseptic meningitis cases identified in children aged 12-24 months were vaccine-associated with onset 15-35 days after vaccine. The study confirmed that the true risk was substantially higher than suggested by case reports from paediatricians, probably about 1 in 11 000 doses. However, the possibility that the aseptic meningitis induced by vaccination was largely asymptomatic and a chance laboratory finding in children investigated for other clinical conditions, particularly febrile convulsions, could not be excluded. Comparison of national reports of virus-positive mumps meningitis cases before and after the introduction of this vaccine indicated that the risk from wild mumps was about 4-fold higher than from vaccine. Altogether, 28 vaccine-associated cases were identified, all in recipients of vaccines containing the Urabe mumps strain. The absence of cases in recipients of vaccine containing the Jeryl Lynn strain, despite its 14% market share, suggested a higher risk from Urabe vaccine. A prospective adverse event surveillance system using the study methods is currently being established to assess the risk, if any, from the Jeryl Lynn strain which is now the only mumps vaccine used in the UK.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)979-982
    Number of pages4
    JournalThe Lancet
    Volume341
    Issue number8851
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 17 Apr 1993

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