Global Measles and Rubella Laboratory Network, January 2004-June 2005

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2005;54(43):1100-1104. 

In This Article

Editorial Note

Measles and rubella elimination and control programs depend on effective global surveillance. LabNet promotes case identification and confirmation, thus improving the quality of disease surveillance and furthering progress toward elimination of these diseases. The development of LabNet has progressed rapidly during the past 5 years. More than 190 national and regional reference laboratories have been equipped and trained to perform IgM ELISA procedures, and the number of measles serum samples tested in 2004 has increased 32% compared with 2003. Many countries have taken the opportunity to use this capability and expand their laboratory-based surveillance by testing for diseases endemic in their respective regions that have similar clinical features (e.g., dengue, parvovirus B19, and HHV-6) or where similar diagnostic assays might be used (e.g., yellow fever and Japanese encephalitis). Virologic surveillance data, when analyzed in conjunction with standard epidemiologic data, can help document viral transmission pathways and aid in case classification. If baseline information regarding circulating genotypes is available, molecular epidemiologic data can also help to document the elimination of endemic transmission and, therefore, provide a means to measure the effectiveness of control programs. Virologic surveillance has provided evidence of the interruption of endemic transmission of measles virus in the western hemisphere[9] and rubella virus in the United States.[10] However, epidemiologic and molecular surveillance activities, coupled with active vaccination programs, must be continued as long as the threat of disease importation exists.

As new laboratories are established, surveillance improves, and laboratory workloads increase, important challenges remain in maintaining quality and meeting the resource needs of the measles and rubella LabNet. These challenges include identifying funding resources for laboratory supplies for measles and rubella testing and encouraging countries to integrate these costs into national surveillance budgets whenever possible. In addition, partners must pursue a means of 1) gaining access to data from laboratories in countries with extensive private laboratory structures for measles and/or rubella surveillance and 2) expanding the quality-assurance program for all laboratories within LabNet, including those at the subnational level.†

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