Laboratory-confirmed Congenital Rubella Syndrome at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka, Zambia-Case Reports

  • ML Mazaba-Liwewe
  • A Mtaja
  • C Chabala
  • S Sinyangwe
  • O Babaniyi
  • M Monze
  • S Siziya
  • C Michelo


Background: Congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) caused by rubella infection in uterine, is a major public health problem among women of child bearing age as it causes serious complications including foetal death or  abnormalities including cardiovascular, ophthalmologic, respiratory and hearing impairment. Though there is  evidence of rubella infection amongst the population under the expanded programme on immunization (epi)  surveillance programme, there is no documented evidence of laboratory confirmed congenital rubella syndrome  cases in Zambia. A report is given on four cases of CRS that were identified and confirmed during routine activities of the national measles surveillance program in Zambia. Clinical data on the symptomatic cases were collected and  serum samples tested for rubella IgM to confirm the cases.

Case presentation: The first confirmed case was a baby girl presented to the Neonatal Intensive Care unit of the University Teaching Hospital for low birth weight and hypothermia. At seven weeks, the girl was found to have  cataracts, spleno-hepatomegaly, microcephaly, and patent ductus arteriosus (PDA). The baby tested positive to  rubella IgM antibodies. The second case was a baby boy who was first seen at the University Teaching Hospital at  three weeks and on examination was found to have bilateral cataracts, congenital heart disease and microcephaly.  Rubella Immunoglobulin M (IgM) results were positive. The third case, a girl, was seen at twelve weeks and brought in for slow growth rate. On examination, the girl was found to have bilateral cataracts,  microcephaly and  developmental delay. The fourth case is a girl who was brought to the hospital for failure to thrive, tachypnea and  fever. On further investigations there was evidence of cataracts, patent ductus arteriosus. At eight weeks, she tested  positive for rubella IgM antibodies.

Conclusion: The clinical symptoms and laboratory evidence of rubella infection confirmed congenital rubella syndrome in the four patients. There is an urgent need for surveillance of congenital rubella syndrome and a  baseline rubella sero-prevalence survey in Zambia in order to determine the burden of the disease and use this  data to direct policy in terms of interventions for supportive treatment, control and possible elimination of rubella  infection through immunization with measlesrubella vaccine.

Keywords: Congenital Rubella Syndrome; Confirmed; Measles-Rubella vaccine; Lusaka, Zambia


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0047-651X
print ISSN: 0047-651X