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In most of western Europe the rubella vaccine coverage is high. However, prior to the introduction of the vaccine in Latin America, rubella susceptibility in women of childbearing age was 10-25%. Forty one (93%) countries in Latin America have adopted the rubella vaccine since 2002. The adult immigrant population in Spain constitutes a group of susceptibles. In February 2003, the Madrid Community Measles Elimination Plan detected an increase in rubella notifications in women who had been born in Latin America. A descriptive study was undertaken to characterise the outbreak. A confirmed case was a person with fever or rash and a positive IgM serology, and living in Madrid, between 1 December 2002 and 31 March 2003. The secondary attack rate (SAR) per household was calculated. A total of 19 cases of rubella were identified, 15 were confirmed and 4 were probable cases. Fourteen (73.7%) cases were women at childbearing age. The mean age was 25.1 years. One pregnancy was diagnosed with a voluntary termination. Eleven (57.9%) cases were from Ecuador. The mean time of residence in Spain was 41 months. None of the cases or the 54 (78.3%) household contacts had been vaccinated against rubella. The SAR was 9.1%. This study showed the spread of rubella in the susceptible Latin American Community that is resident in Madrid. The interventions proposed were a vaccination programme towards immigrants, a health education campaign to prevent congenital rubella, and a health professional training programme case management.


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