The anti-measles virus (MV) antibody titers in the sera of vaccinees and naturally infected individuals of different age groups were measured to help assess the efficacy of the current MV vaccination in Japan. Neutralizing (NT) antibody titers induced by vaccination were 2 3.2 times lower than those induced by natural infection and declined significantly by age 20. The once-decreased NT antibody titers of the vaccinees increased 2 3.6 times during their twenties to titers comparable to those of naturally infected individuals of the same age, implying the possible occurrence of natural infection in vaccinees with decreased anti-MV immunity. Although the current field strains in Japan, types D3 and D5, were reported to differ antigenically from each other and from vaccine strains (type A) to some extent, as demonstrated by different reactivities to monoclonal antibod-ies, the sera of vaccinees neutralized the two types of field strains and the vaccine strain with the same efficiency. This result suggests that the current vaccine strain would be suitable to elicit protection against types D3 and D5, as long as viral antigenicity is concerned. However, when compared at given hemagglutination inhibition titers, NT antibody titers of vaccinees were 2 1.1 to 2 3.2 times lower than those of naturally infected individuals, suggesting a qualitative difference(s) of anti-MV antibodies between the two groups. It should be emphasized that protective immunity induced by the one-dose vaccination currently implemented in Japan may not be strong enough to ensure lifelong immunity. A two-dose vaccination program with higher vaccination coverage needs to be considered in order to effectively control measles in Japan.
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