Surveillance and outbreak reports Open Access
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The objective of this study was to describe transmission chains of measles observed in Poland during 2008-2009. A decade ago, the incidence of measles in Poland declined and approached one case per million inhabitants one of the World Health Organization's criteria for measles elimination. Following a period of very few reported measles cases (2003 to 2005), an increase in incidence was observed in 2006. Since then, the incidence has constantly exceeded one case per million inhabitants. Of 214 measles cases reported in 2008 and 2009 in Poland, 164 (77%) were linked to 19 distinct outbreaks, with 79% of cases belonging to the Roma ethnic group. Outbreaks in the non-Roma Polish population had different dynamics compared to those in the Roma population. On average, measles outbreaks in Roma communities involved 10 individuals, seven of whom were unvaccinated, while outbreaks in the non-Roma Polish population involved five individuals, half of whom were incompletely vaccinated. The majority of outbreaks in Roma communities were related to importation of virus from the United Kingdom. In six outbreaks, the epidemiologic investigation was confirmed by identification of genotype D4 closely related to measles viruses detected in the United Kingdom and Germany. Our data indicate that Poland is approaching measles elimination, but measles virus circulation is still sustained in a vulnerable population. More efforts are needed to integrate the Roma ethnic group into the Polish healthcare system and innovative measures to reach vulnerable groups should be explored.


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