Risk factors for measles mortality among hospitalized Somali refugees displaced by famine, Kenya, 2011

Abdirahman Mahamud, Ann Burton, Mohamed Hassan, Jamal A. Ahmed, John B. Wagacha, Paul Spiegel, Chris Haskew, Rachel B. Eidex, Sharmila Shetty, Susan Cookson, Carlos Navarro-Colorado, James L. Goodson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background. Measles among displaced, malnourished populations can result in a high case fatality ratio. In 2011, a large measles outbreak occurred in Dadaab, Kenya, among refugees fleeing famine and conflict in Somalia. The aim of this study was to identify predictors of measles deaths among hospitalized patients during the outbreak.Methods. A retrospective cohort study design was used to investigate measles mortality among hospitalized measles patients with a date of rash onset during 6 June-10 September 2011. Data were abstracted from medical records and a measles case was defined as an illness with fever, maculopapular rash, and either cough, coryza or conjunctivitis. Vaccination status was determined by patient or parental recall. Independent predictors of mortality were identified using logistic regression analysis.Results. Of 388 hospitalized measles patients, 188 (49%) were from hospital X, 70 (18%) from hospital Y, and 130 (34%) from hospital Z; median age was 22 years, 192 (50%) were 15-29 years of age, and 22 (6%) were vaccinated. The mean number of days from rash onset to hospitalization varied by hospital (hospital X = 5, hospital Y = 3, hospital Z = 6; P <. 0001). Independent risk factors for measles mortality were neurological complications (odds ratio [OR], 12.8; 95% confidence interval [CI], 3.1-52.4), acute malnutrition (OR, 7.6; 95% CI, 1.3-44.3), and admission to hospital Z (OR, 4.2; 95% CI, 1.3-13.2).Conclusions. Among Somali refugees, in addition to timely vaccination at border crossing points, early detection and treatment of acute malnutrition and proper management of measles cases may reduce measles mortality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e160-e166
JournalClinical Infectious Diseases
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 15 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • acute malnutrition
  • measles
  • mortality
  • refugees
  • vaccination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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