Open Access Research article

A 60-year review on the changing epidemiology of measles in capital Beijing, China, 1951-2011

Juan Li, Li Lu, Xinghuo Pang, Meiping Sun, Rui Ma, Donglei Liu and Jiang Wu*

Author Affiliations

Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 Hepingli Middle Road, Dongcheng District, Beijing 100013, China

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:986  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-986

Published: 21 October 2013



China pledged to join the global effort to eliminate measles by 2012. To improve measles control strategy, the epidemic trend and population immunity of measles were investigated in 1951–2011 in Beijing.


The changing trend of measles since 1951 was described based on measles surveillance data from Beijing Centre of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The measles vaccination coverage and antibody level were assessed by routinely reported measles vaccination data and twenty-one sero-epidemiological surveys.


The incidence of measles has decreased significantly from 593.5/100,000 in 1951 (peaked at 2721.0/100,000 in 1955), to 0.5/100,000 in 2011 due to increasing vaccination coverage of 95%-99%. Incidence rebounded from 6.6/100,000 to 24.5/100,000 since 2005 and decreased after measles vaccine (MV) supplementary immunization activities (SIAs) in 2010. Measles antibody positive rate was 85%-95% in most of years since 1981. High-risk districts were spotted in Chaoyang, Fengtai and Changping districts in recent 15 years. Age-specific incidence and proportion of measles varied over time. The most affected population were younger children of 1–4 years before 1978, older children of 5–14 years in 1978–1996, infant of <1 years and adults of ≥15 years in period of aim to measles elimination.


Strategies at different stages had a prevailing effect on the epidemic dynamics of measles in recent 60 years in Beijing. It will be essential to validate reported vaccination coverage, improve vaccination coverage in adults and strengthen measles surveillance in the anticipated elimination campaign for measles.

Measles; Epidemiology; Incidence; Vaccine; Coverage; Sero-epidemiology