Diphtheria toxin IgG levels in military and civilian blood donors in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Serologic data on diseases that are preventable by vaccines are necessary to evaluate the success of immunization programs and to identify susceptible subgroups. In the present study, we determined serum IgG levels against diphtheria toxin of military and civilian blood donors (N = 75; 69.3% males and 30.7% females) aged 18-64 years, from the Brazilian Army Biology Institute, Rio de Janeiro, using a commercial diphtheria kit (Diphtheria IgG ELISA; IBL, Germany). Most (63%) unprotected military donors were from the older age group of 41 to 64 years. In contrast, the majority (71%) of young military donors (18 to 30 years) were fully protected. About half of the military donors aged 31 to 40 years were protected against diphtheria. Among the civilians, about 50% of persons aged 18 to 30 years and 31 to 40 years had protective antibody levels against diphtheria as also did 64% of individuals aged 41 to 64 years. All civilians had a similar antibody response (geometric mean = 0.55 IU/mL) independent of age group. Military donors aged 18-30 years had higher IgG levels (geometric mean = 0.82 IU/mL) than military donors of 41-64 years (geometric mean = 0.51 IU/mL; P > 0.05). In conclusion, the existence of a considerable proportion of susceptible adults supports the position that reliable data on the immune status of the population should be maintained routinely and emphasizes the importance of adequate immunization during adulthood.

Diphtheria protective antibodies; Military personnel; Blood donors; Age influence

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