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Recognition of measles is crucial to prevent transmissions in the hospital settings. Little is known about the level of recognition of measles and possible causes of not recognising the disease by physicians in the post-vaccine era. We report on a measles outbreak in a paediatric hospital in Austria in January to February 2017 with strikingly high numbers of not recognised cases. The extent and course of the outbreak were assessed via retrospective case finding. Thirteen confirmed measles cases were identified, two with atypical clinical picture. Of eight cases with no known epidemiological link, only one was diagnosed immediately; four were recognised with delay and three only retrospectively. Eleven typical measles cases had four ‘unrecognised visits’ to the outpatient clinic and 28 on the ward. Two atypical cases had two ‘unrecognised visits’ to the outpatient clinic and 19 on the ward.

Thirteen clinicians did not recognise typical measles (atypical cases not included). Twelve of 23 physicians involved had never encountered a patient with measles before. The direct and indirect costs related to the outbreak were calculated to be over EUR 80,000. Our findings suggest the need to establish regular training programmes about measles, including diagnostic pitfalls in paediatric hospitals.


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