Improving Child Health

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Science  04 Nov 2005:
Vol. 310, Issue 5749, pp. 749
DOI: 10.1126/science.310.5749.749c

Measles tends to be overlooked in the context of developing countries that have to cope with assault from many other intractable infections, yet it still accounts for more than 350,000 deaths annually in Africa, despite the availability of an excellent vaccine. Currently, 22 measles virus genotypes have been recognized, but relatively little is known about the genotypes circulating in Africa.

Muwonge et al., working in Uganda, have discovered a new genotype (d10) in a 2-year study that highlights the logistical difficulties of undertaking such surveillance in a developing country. The viruses they isolated showed uniformity within the country, but significant divergence from reference strains, and were highly distinct from other known African strains, too. It is possible that measles transmission dynamics in Uganda differs from that in developed countries. Genotype surveillance in Africa should be extended not only to monitor control programs but also to describe transmission patterns and hence whether approaches to control and vaccination need revising. — CA

Emerg. Infect. Dis. 11, 1522 (2005).

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