Measles Can Cause ‘Immune Amnesia,’ Increasing Risk of Other Infections

The New York Times and CNN have published articles that explore how measles can have devastating effects on the immune system that persist much longer than the illness itself. The articles reference new studies published in Science and Science Immunology. Per the NYT article:

The weakened immunity leaves a child vulnerable for several years to other dangerous infections like flu and pneumonia. The damage occurs because the virus kills cells that make antibodies, which are crucial to fighting off infections.

Scientists call the effect “immune amnesia.” During childhood, as colds, flu, stomach bugs and other illnesses come and go, the immune system forms something akin to a memory that it uses to attack those germs if they try to invade again. The measles virus erases that memory, leaving the patient prone to catching the diseases all over again.

The findings make the need for measles vaccination even more urgent, because it protects children against much more than measles, the researchers said.

Read the article to learn more.

About Kim Rodgers

Kim Rodgers serves as a Communications Specialist at NACCHO. Her work includes promoting local health departments' best practices, as well as partner tools and resources, in infectious disease and preparedness through NACCHO's communications channels, storytelling, and outreach to various audiences.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *