A review of data needed to parameterize a dynamic model of measles in developing countries
Background: Dynamic models of infection transmission can project future disease burden within a population. Few dynamic measles models have been developed for low-income countries, where measles disease burden is highest. Our objective was to review the literature on measles epidemiology in low-income countries, with a particular focus on data that are needed to parameterize dynamic models. Methods: We included age-stratified case reporting and seroprevalence studies with fair to good sample sizes for mostly urban African and Indian populations. We emphasized studies conducted before widespread immunization. We summarized age-stratified attack rates and seroprevalence profiles across these populations. Using the study data, we fitted a "representative" seroprevalence profile for African and Indian settings. We also used a catalytic model to estimate the age-dependent force of infection for individual African and Indian studies where seroprevalence was surveyed. We used these data to quantify the effects of population density on the basic reproductive number R₀. Results: The peak attack rate usually occurred at age 1 year in Africa, and 1 to 2 years in India, which is earlier than in developed countries before mass vaccination. Approximately 60% of children were seropositive for measles antibody by age 2 in Africa and India, according to the representative seroprevalence profiles. A statistically significant decline in the force of infection with age was found in 4 of 6 Indian seroprevalence studies, but not in 2 African studies. This implies that the classic threshold result describing the critical proportion immune (pc) required to eradicate an infectious disease, pc = 1-1/R₀, may overestimate the required proportion immune to eradicate measles in some developing country populations. A possible, though not statistically significant, positive relation between population density and R₀ for various Indian and African populations was also found. These populations also showed a similar pattern of waning of maternal antibodies. Attack rates in rural Indian populations show little dependence on vaccine coverage or population density compared to urban Indian populations. Estimated R₀ values varied widely across populations which has further implications for measles elimination. Conclusions: It is possible to develop a broadly informative dynamic model of measles transmission in low income country settings based on existing literature, though it may be difficult to develop a model that is closely tailored to any given country. Greater efforts to collect data specific to low-income countries would aid in control efforts by allowing highly population-specific models to be developed.