An outbreak of measles in Tanzanian refugee camps

C Kamugisha, K L Cairns, C Akim
Journal of Infectious Diseases 2003 May 15, 187: S58-62
From March 2000 to May 2001, four camps in Kibondo District, Tanzania, hosting refugees from Burundi reported 1062 cases of measles, a highly infectious and potentially lethal disease. Of 1062 case-patients, 225 (21%) were <9 months old, 286 (27%) were 9 months to 5 years, 324 (31%) were 6-15 years, and 227 (21%) were >/=16 years old. No deaths were reported. Although, in accordance with Sphere Project guidelines for humanitarian emergencies, camp policy was to vaccinate all new arrivals aged 6 months to 15 years against measles, 152 (72%) of 210 newly arrived refugees in this age group were unvaccinated; 143 (94%) of the 152 had lived in the camp >/=1 month before rash onset. This investigation supports Sphere Project recommendations for wide age group vaccination and suggests that in some circumstances vaccination of refugees >15 years old may be beneficial.


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