Role of congenital rubella reference laboratory: 21-months-surveillance in Liguria, Italy


Introduction. Rubella is generally a mild rush fever disease when acquired in childhood, but when infection occurs during the first months of pregnancy, high risk of trans-placental transmission to the foetus and of congenital anomalies exists. In November 2003, a National Plan for measles and congenital rubella elimination was approved in Italy. The aim was to reduce and maintain Congenital Rubella Syndrome incidence lower than 1 case per 100.000 live births/year by 2007. Since June 2006, Liguria Administrative Region recognized U.O. Hygiene, ?San Martino? University Hospital, Genoa, as regional reference laboratory for diagnosis of rubella infection during pregnancy and post-partum Methods. Twenty-one-month virological-surveillance results between April 2007 and December 2008 were reported in terms of demographic data, risk factors, access reasons, clinical picture, vaccination, previous rubella disease, laboratory results of pregnant women and newborns. Results and conclusion. Since the beginning of surveillance, 65 pregnant women with suspected virus infection and 18 newborns with suspected congenital rubella were followed up. The results of laboratory surveillance highlighted (i) the importance of an early screening, (ii) the suboptimal specificity of chemiluminescent assays, that often yield false positive IgM results and (iii) the fundamental role of second-level laboratory to confirm the serological diagnosis and to detect the virus by molecular techniques.