In the United States, approximately 9% of the measles cases reported from 2012 to 2014 occurred in vaccinated individuals. Laboratory confirmation of measles in vaccinated individuals is challenging since IgM assays can give inconclusive results. Although a positive reverse transcription (RT)-PCR assay result from an appropriately timed specimen can provide confirmation, negative results may not rule out a highly suspicious case. Detection of high-avidity measles IgG in serum samples provides laboratory evidence of a past immunologic response to measles from natural infection or immunization. High concentrations of measles neutralizing antibody have been observed by plaque reduction neutralization (PRN) assays among confirmed measles cases with high-avidity IgG, referred to here as reinfection cases (RICs). In this study, we evaluated the utility of measuring levels of measles neutralizing antibody to distinguish RICs from noncases by receiver operating characteristic curve analysis. Single and paired serum samples with high-avidity measles IgG from suspected measles cases submitted to the CDC for routine surveillance were used for the analysis. The RICs were confirmed by a 4-fold rise in PRN titer or by RT-quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) assay, while the noncases were negative by both assays. Discrimination accuracy was high with serum samples collected ≥3 days after rash onset (area under the curve, 0.953; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.854 to 0.993). Measles neutralizing antibody concentrations of ≥40,000 mIU/ml identified RICs with 90% sensitivity (95% CI, 74 to 98%) and 100% specificity (95% CI, 82 to 100%). Therefore, when serological or RT-qPCR results are unavailable or inconclusive, suspected measles cases with high-avidity measles IgG can be confirmed as RICs by measles neutralizing antibody concentrations of ≥40,000 mIU/ml.
Sowers, S. B., Rota, J. S., Hickman, C. J., Mercader, S., Redd, S., McNall, R. J., … Bellini, W. J. (2016). High Concentrations of Measles Neutralizing Antibodies and High-Avidity Measles IgG Accurately Identify Measles Reinfection Cases. Clinical and Vaccine Immunology, 23(8), 707–716. https://doi.org/10.1128/cvi.00268-16