Measles continues to be a major childhood disease in terms of global morbidity and mortality. In the main areas of its endemicity the only available means of diagnosis are based on clinical criteria: the presence of a maculopapular rash and fever accompanied by cough, coryza, and/or conjunctivitis. We have studied 38 clinically diagnosed cases of measles in Khartoum, Sudan, by means of serology, reverse transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR) on throat swabs and virus isolation from lymphocytes. On the basis of serology, 28 patients were diagnosed as having an acute measles virus (MV) infection, while in 10 cases the clinical symptoms proved to have other causes. It was shown that in cases with low serum immunoglobulin M (IgM) levels, an additional measurement of IgG or virus-neutralizing antibodies was necessary to discriminate between patients with an acute MV infection sampled during an early stage of the disease and patients who had experienced an MV infection in the more distant past. The serological laboratory diagnosis was validated by an MV-specific RT-PCR: for all confirmed measles cases tested a fragment of the correct size which hybridized with a third MV-specific primer could be amplified, while all serologically negative cases were also RT-PCR negative. MV could be isolated from 17 out of 23 of the serologically confirmed cases, demonstrating that virus isolation is less reliable as a diagnostic tool than serology or RT-PCR. This study stresses the urgent need for a rapid diagnostic field test for measles.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Adolescent, Antibodies, Viral/blood, Child, Child, Preschool, Female, Humans, Immunoglobulin G/blood, Infant, Lymphocytes/virology, Male, Measles virus/classification/*genetics/isolation & purification, Measles/epidemiology/immunology/*virology, Pharynx/virology, Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't, Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction, Serotyping, Suburban Population/statistics & numerical data, Sudan/epidemiology
Persistent URL
Journal Journal of Clinical Microbiology
el Mubarak, H.S, Niesters, H.G.M, Ibrahim, S.A, de Swart, R.L, Zijlstra, E.E, Wild, T.F, … van de Bildt, M.W.G. (2000). Serological and virological characterization of clinically diagnosed cases of measles in suburban Khartoum. Journal of Clinical Microbiology. Retrieved from