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Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Print version ISSN 0042-9686


VIJAYALAKSHMI, Perumalsamy et al. Rubella serosurveys at three Aravind Eye Hospitals in Tamil Nadu, India. Bull World Health Organ [online]. 2004, vol.82, n.4, pp.259-264. ISSN 0042-9686.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the susceptibility of female eye hospital staff to rubella infection and the potential risk for hospital-based rubella outbreaks. METHODS: A prospective cohort study on the seroprevalence of rubella IgG antibodies was conducted at three large eye hospitals in Coimbatore, Madurai and Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu, India, where young children with eye abnormalities attributable to congenital rubella are treated. A total of 1000 female hospital employees aged 18-40 years agreed to participate and gave written informed consent. FINDINGS: The proportions of rubella-seronegative women were: 11.7% at Coimbatore, with a 95% confidence interval (CI) of 8.1-16.5; 15% at Madurai (95% CI = 12.3-18.1), and 20.8 at Tirunelveli (95% CI = 14.7-28.6). For the entire cohort the proportion seronegative was significantly higher among married women (21.5%) than among single women (14.0%) (P = 0.02). Rates of seronegativity were highest among physicians and lowest among housekeepers. All 150 seronegative women in the study sample accepted a dose of rubella vaccine. CONCLUSION: These are the first rubella serosurveys to have been reported from eye hospitals in any country. The relatively high rate of susceptibility indicated a risk of a rubella outbreak, and this was reduced by vaccinating all seronegative women. A policy has been established at all three hospitals for the provision of rubella vaccine to new employees. Other hospitals, especially eye hospitals and hospitals in countries without routine rubella immunization, should consider the rubella susceptibility of staff and the risk of hospital-based rubella outbreaks.

Keywords : Rubella [epidemiology]; Rubella [immunology]; Rubella syndrome, Congenital; Hospitals, Special; Personnel, Hospital; Cross infection; Rubella vaccine; Women; Seroepidemiologic studies; Prospective studies; Cohort studies; India.

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