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Many Canadian immigrants are susceptible to measles, mumps, or rubella

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 18 January 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:118

A survey of immigrants and refugees living in one culturally diverse area of Montreal in Quebec found that 36% of people tested were susceptible to measles, mumps, or rubella. This prompted calls for catch-up vaccination programmes or at the least heightened surveillance by primary and secondary healthcare facilities.

The researchers surveyed 1480 adults who had come to Canada from six developing regions including south Asia, Latin America, Africa, and eastern Europe. All were recruited from two hospitals and three primary care clinics in Montreal. Almost half were refugees. They were well educated and most were in the middle or high incomes brackets in their home countries. Susceptibility to measles, mumps, or rubella varied between 22% and 54% depending on age, sex, and country of origin. Immigrant or refugee women were significantly more likely than men to be susceptible to measles (odds ratio 2.1, 95% CI 1.2 to 3.8) and rubella (1.7, 1.2 to 2.6).

The authors say their results are worrying and probably reflect the poor global coverage of the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine compared with coverage in Canada and the US. Public health authorities need to close the gap or risk repeated outbreaks of these childhood diseases.


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