Vaccine-preventable Diseases having a Viral or Bacterial Aetiology

General objectives

Enhance the collaborative research on measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough, pneumococcal disease and meningococcal disease to improve epidemiological surveillance and control by means of vaccination programmes.


Once smallpox was eradicated, and being close to achieving the same with poliomyelitis, the following, most controllable vaccine-preventable viral disease is measles. The WHO already considers it will be eliminated in some regions, such as Europe, by 2020. For decades, the measles vaccine has been administered together with mumps and rubella vaccine. For this reason, all the actions within the National Measles Plan have been carried out in exactly the same way for the other two diseases, which meant that in 2008, the goal of eliminating rubella was also included. Since then, a National Plan for Eliminating Measles and Rubella has been created. With respect to mumps, the situation is quite different, and the incidence is much higher due to lower vaccine effectiveness, whereas for meningococcal and pneumococcal diseases current vaccines do not cover all serogroups.

The subprogramme already has FIS funding for two projects, a whooping cough project and a measles, mumps and rubella project. The subject-matter of this subprogramme has already been object of various collaborative actions and has led to several collaborative publications in international journals, a special issue in The Open Vaccine Journal and two workshops.

Specific objectives (viral diseases)

  • Estimate the seroprevalence for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) in native and immigrant populations, and the duration of maternally transferred antibodies.
  • Study genotype variants of MMR and their application to surveillance. Develop tools with a higher discrimination capability and geographic information systems.
  • Study vaccination coverage in native and immigrant populations, the influence of the groups that are reluctant to vaccinate, and the causes of vaccine failures.
  • Improve MMR laboratory diagnosis. Evaluate sensitivity and specificity of PCR techniques, specificity of rubella IgM and sensitivity of mumps IgM.

Specific objectives (bacterial diseases)

Whooping cough:

  • Investigate incidence and other epidemiological characteristics, and the effectiveness of vaccination in adolescents in primary contacts in cases of whooping cough. A collaborative project was submitted in the FIS 2011 call for proposals and granted (project PI11/02557), with the participation of researchers from groups G01, G11 and G12, as well as from the Research Group for Paediatric Infectious Diseases of Hospital San Juan de Dios de Esplugues. The objective of the project is to investigate sources of infection and secondary transmission rates for whooping cough in Catalonia and Navarre.
  • Investigate the effectiveness of chemoprophylaxis in household contacts for primary cases of whooping cough to reduce transmission.
  • Study the effectiveness of the whooping cough vaccine in pregnant women to reduce the risk of disease in children less than 2 months of age.
  • Study the effectiveness of the whooping cough vaccine in pregnant women to reduce the transmission of whooping cough in households.

Pneumococcal disease:

  • Investigate the factors associated with invasive disease in the most susceptible groups of the population (children and elderly) and the effectiveness of the different vaccines available. FIS projects (04/1835, 04/0151, 04/2516, 04/1573, 04/2303, 04/2351 and 06/1507) which led to various publications have ended, and another project has been granted to investigate the effectiveness of the 13-valent conjugate vaccine in the 2011 call for proposals (PI11/02345). Researchers from groups G01 and G12 are involved in said project, which is coordinated with another (PI11/02081) in which researchers from the paediatric hospitals San Juan de Dios de Esplugues and Vall d’Hebrón of Barcelona are involved.

Meningococcal disease:

  • Investigate epidemiology after the introduction of the meningococcal C vaccine in the vaccination schedule, and the factors associated with severity and death. Two projects FIS (98/0044, 98/0079) have been carried out, and a new project has been submitted in the FIS 2011 call for proposals, which was granted (PI11/02890). Researchers from groups G01 and G12, as well as also researchers from the Microbiology Lab of Hospital San Juan de Dios of Barcelona, the Meningococcal Reference Lab of the Spanish National Microbiology Centre, and from the Genetics Lab of the Universidad de Santiago, which is part of the ESIGEM NETWORK (Estudio de la Influencia Genética en la Enfermedad Meningocócica- Study of the Genetic Influence in Meningococcal Disease) and from the International Meningococcal Disease Consortium, are participating in this project. The objective of this project is to investigate the existence of genetic factors determining the carrier condition and to compare the microbiological characteristics of case and carrier strains.