Estimated incidence and transmission intensity of rubella infection in Zambia pre-vaccine era 2005-2016

Mazyanga L. Mazaba*, Samuel Bosomprah, Daniel Cohen, Mwaka Monze, Seter Siziya

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The rubella disease burden in Zambia may be under-estimated. Using models, we describe the transmission dynamics, determine the incidence estimates and assess the level of underestimation of the real burden of rubella infection in Zambia during the pre-vaccination period 2005-2016. This study used both the deterministic compartmental model and likelihood-based method using a Bayesian framework to describe the epidemiology of rubella. A total of 1313 cases of rubella were confirmed with the highest annual number of 255 new cases recorded in 2008. However, 2014 recorded the highest monthly median positivity rate of 9.0%. The observed median rubella cases were 5.5. There was a seasonal pattern in the occurrence of laboratory-confirmed rubella, with higher test positivity rates of rubella infection usually recorded in the months of September, October and November. The modelled monthly median incidence of rubella infection among the general population was 76 and 20 among pregnant women. The incidence of rubella among the non-pregnant women was 44. The average effective reproductive number (Rt) between 2005 and 2016 was estimated as 1.2 with the peak of infection occurring in 2016. The measles surveillance system underestimates the observed burden of rubella. A mass vaccination campaign conducted between January and July is recommended.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere9
JournalEpidemiology and Infection
StatePublished - 20 Dec 2023


  • Infectious disease epidemiology
  • infectious disease
  • modelling
  • outbreaks
  • rubella


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