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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Columbia: Large Scale Study on Measles Transmission in China Has Implications for Controlling the Epidemic Worldwide

A new study on the measles epidemic in China has far-reaching implications for eliminating the infection globally. Using a new model-inference system developed at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, researchers were able to estimate population susceptibility and demographical characteristics in three China locations, in a period that spans pre-vaccine and modern mass-vaccination eras. Until now, the dynamics of transmitting measles here had been largely unknown. The findings are published online in PLOS.

“Since 2008 China has reported a greater than 95 percent vaccination coverage rate, yet measles has continued to cause large outbreaks for reasons that remain undetermined,” said Dr. Wan Yang, assistant professor of epidemiology at Mailman, and lead author.

With the modeling tool, the Columbia Mailman researchers estimated key epidemiological parameters in Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shandong — during 1951–2004, taking into account complex and changing population demographics, contact patterns, age-structure, mass vaccination, and under-reporting.

“Our study also revealed interesting differences in measles seasonality,” said senior author Dr. Jeffrey Shaman, professor of environmental health sciences and director of the Climate and Health Program.

The study was supported by U.S. NIH grants.