Seven countries in Western Europe collected large, representative serum banks across the entire age range and tested them for diphtheria anti-toxin (sample size ranged from 2991 to 7715). Although a variety of assays were used, the results were all standardized to those of a reference laboratory and expressed in international units. The standardization process, and the availability of similar, large data sets allowed comparative analyses to be performed in which a high degree of confidence could be ascribed to observed epidemiological differences. The results showed that there were large differences in the proportion of adults with insufficient levels of protection amongst different countries. For instance, roughly 35% of 50- to 60-year-olds were found to be seronegative (titre 90%) but the accelerated schedule in the United Kingdom appears to result in lower anti-toxin titres than elsewhere. In Sweden, booster doses are not offered until 10 years of age which results in large numbers of children with inadequate levels of protection. Although the United Kingdom and Sweden both have higher proportions of seronegative children than elsewhere the likelihood of a resurgence of diphtheria in these countries seems remote.
Six countries (Denmark, England and Wales, France, Germany, Italy and The Netherlands) conducted large serological surveys for mumps, in the mid-1990s, as part of the European Sero-Epidemiology Network (ESEN). The assay results were standardized and related to the schedules and coverage of the immunization programmes and the reported incidence of mumps. Low incidence of disease and few susceptibles amongst adolescents and young adults was observed in countries with high mumps vaccine coverage (e.g. The Netherlands). High disease incidence and large proportions of mumps virus antibody negative samples in adolescent and young adult age groups was noted in countries with poor vaccine coverage (e.g. Italy). The build-up of susceptibles in older children and adolescents in England and Wales, France, the former West Germany and Italy indicate the possibility of further mumps outbreaks in secondary school environments. To control mumps in western Europe, current MMR immunization programmes will need to be strengthened in a number of countries. Sero-surveillance of mumps is an important component of disease control and its usefulness will be enhanced by the development of an international mumps standard.
Most of the countries in western Europe have now implemented mass infant rubella immunization programmes, instead of or in addition to selective vaccination in order to achieve the elimination of congenital rubella syndrome. The European countries Denmark, England and Wales, Finland, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands undertook large, national serological surveys collecting several thousand serum specimens during 1994-8. Antibodies against rubella virus were detected by a variety of enzyme immuno-assays. Comparability of the assay results was achieved by a standardized methodology. The age- and sex-stratified serological results were related to the schedules, coverage of rubella vaccination and the incidence in these countries. The results show widely differing levels of immunity to rubella both in the general population and in the specific age groups of males and females. A low rate (