Skip to main navigation menu Skip to main content Skip to site footer

Original article

Vol. 149 No. 2324 (2019)

Approaching measles elimination in Switzerland: changing epidemiology 2007–2018

  • Jean-Luc Richard
  • Mirjam Mäusezahl
  • Sabine Basler
  • Nadine Eckert
Cite this as:
Swiss Med Wkly. 2019;149:w20102


Switzerland is aiming to eliminate measles, in line with the objectives of the World Health Organization (WHO). Physicians, laboratories and public health authorities have made great efforts to reach this goal. A continually increasing measles vaccination coverage and other preventive measures have made an impact: no major measles outbreak has been recorded since 2011. In order to evaluate progress towards elimination, measles epidemiology of a previous epidemic period (2007–2011) was compared with the current post-epidemic period (2012–July 2018) by analysis of data from the mandatory notification system. A decrease of 94% in the average annual incidence rate occurred between the two periods (from 133 to 9 cases per million inhabitants). This was accompanied by significant changes in the epidemiology that are expected and characteristic of countries with limited circulation of the measles virus. After analysing the performance of the Swiss surveillance system and the data provided, the WHO concluded that endemic measles transmission was interrupted in Switzerland in 2016 and 2017.


  1. World Health Organization. Regional office for Europe. Eliminating measles and rubella: Framework for the verification process in the WHO European Region. Copenhagen: WHO; 2014. [accessed on 10 Jan. 2019]
  2. Office fédéral de la santé publique. Stratégie nationale d’élimination de la rougeole 2011–2015. Berne: OFSP; 2012. [accessed on 24 Sept. 2018]
  3. Office fédéral de la santé publique. Stratégie nationale de vaccination. Berne: OFSP; 2017. [accessed on 10 Jan. 2019]
  4. Confédération suisse. Ordonnance du DFI sur la déclaration d'observations en rapport avec les maladies transmissibles de l'homme (RS 818.101.126). [accessed on 10 Jan. 2019]
  5. Office fédéral de la santé publique. La Suisse se dote d’un centre national de référence pour la rougeole et la rubéole et réorganise le processus de génotypage de ces virus. Bull OFSP. 2017;51:15‒6. [accessed on 10 Jan. 2019]
  6. Richard JL, Masserey Spicher V. Large measles epidemic in Switzerland from 2006 to 2009: consequences for the elimination of measles in Europe. Euro Surveill. 2009;14(50):19443.
  7. Richard JL, Vidondo B, Mäusezahl M. A 5-year comparison of performance of sentinel and mandatory notification surveillance systems for measles in Switzerland. Eur J Epidemiol. 2008;23(1):55–65. doi:.
  8. European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Measles and rubella surveillance – 2017. Stockholm: ECDC; 2018. [accessed on 17 Mar. 2019]
  9. Office fédéral de la santé publique. Directives de lutte contre la rougeole et les flambées de rougeole. Directives et recommandations. Berne: OFSP; 2013. [accessed on 10 Jan. 2019]
  10. Li J, Lu L, Pang X, Sun M, Ma R, Liu D, et al. A 60-year review on the changing epidemiology of measles in capital Beijing, China, 1951-2011. BMC Public Health. 2013;13(1):986. doi:.
  11. Woudenberg T, van Binnendijk RS, Sanders EAM, Wallinga J, de Melker HE, Ruijs WLM, et al. Large measles epidemic in the Netherlands, May 2013 to March 2014: changing epidemiology. Euro Surveill. 2017;22(3):30443. doi:.
  12. Filia A, Bella A, Del Manso M, Baggieri M, Magurano F, Rota MC. Ongoing outbreak with well over 4,000 measles cases in Italy from January to end August 2017 - what is making elimination so difficult? Euro Surveill. 2017;22(37):30614. doi:.
  13. Duclos P, Redd SC, Varughese P, Hersh BS. Measles in adults in Canada and the United States: implications for measles elimination and eradication. Int J Epidemiol. 1999;28(1):141–6. doi:.
  14. Kaida A, Iritani N, Kanbayashi D, Yamamoto SP, Hirai Y, Hakui N, et al. Ten-year surveillance of measles virus from 2007–2016 in Osaka City, Japan. Jpn J Infect Dis. 2018;71(2):152–4. doi:.
  15. Cheng WY, Wang HC, Wu HS, Liu MT. Measles surveillance in Taiwan, 2012-2014: Changing epidemiology, immune response, and circulating genotypes. J Med Virol. 2016;88(5):746–53. doi:.
  16. Li S, Ma C, Hao L, Su Q, An Z, Ma F, et al. Demographic transition and the dynamics of measles in six provinces in China: A modeling study. PLoS Med. 2017;14(4):e1002255. doi:.
  17. Muscat M, Ben Mamou M, Singh S, de Kat C, Jankovic D, Huseynov S, et al. Eliminierung der Masern aus der Europäischen Region der WHO – Herausforderungen bleiben. Bundesgesundheitsbl. 2019.
  18. Althaus CL, Salathé M. Measles Vaccination Coverage and Cases among Vaccinated Persons. Emerg Infect Dis. 2015;21(8):1480–1. doi:.
  19. World Health Organization. Regional office for Europe. Seventh meeting of the European regional verification commission for measles and rubella elimination (RVC). Copenhagen: WHO; 2018. [accessed on 10 Jan. 2019]
  20. World Health Organization. Regional office for Europe. Measles cases hit record high in the European Region; 20 August 2018. [accessed on 10 Jan. 2019]
  21. Office fédéral de la santé publique, Commission fédérale pour les vaccinations. Plan de vaccination suisse 2018. Directives et recommandations. Berne: OFSP; 2018. [accessed on 10 Jan. 2019]

Most read articles by the same author(s)