Epidemiological and molecular investigation of a rubella outbreak, Romania, 2011 to 2012.
- Clinical and Applied Virology
We describe a rubella outbreak that occurred in Romania between September 2011 and December 2012. During this period 24,627 rubella cases, 41.1% (n=10,134) of which female, were notified based on clinical criteria, and a total of 6,182 individuals were found serologically positive for IgM-specific rubella antibody. The median age of notified cases was 18 years (range: <1–65) and the most affected age group 15 to 19 years (n=16,245 cases). Of all notified cases, 24,067 cases (97.7%) reported no history of vaccination. Phylogenetic analysis of 19 sequences (739 nucleotides each), from 10 districts of the country revealed that the outbreak was caused by two distinct rubella virus strains of genotype 2B, which co-circulated with both temporal and geographical overlap. In addition to the 6,182 IgM-positive rubella cases, 28 cases of congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) were identified, including 11 neonatal deaths and one stillbirth. The outbreak underscores the need to encourage higher vaccination uptake in the population, particularly in women of reproductive age, and to strengthen epidemiological and laboratory investigations of suspected rubella cases. Genetic characterisation of wild-type rubella virus is an essential component to enhance surveillance and here we report rubella virus sequences from Romania.