Measles has been found to weaken the immune systems of those who recover from it by causing their immune systems to forget its defenses to prior infections, according to a recently released study.
Scientists call this reaction to Measles infection, "immune amnesia".
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.
Measles has recently been spreading in developed countries, despite near eradication in those countries. The rise in measles cases in developed countries has increased because of parents who are making the decision not to vaccinate their children. Despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary, some parents believe that there is a link between vaccination and a child later developing autism.
However, measles is more dangerous than previously thought. A recent study found that children who develop measles and recover are still susceptible to a wide range of diseases they had previously developed immunity against. This is because measles kill off antibodies that are critical in fighting infections.
Children who recover from measles are then more vulnerable to the flu and pneumonia, which could prove deadly. The protective effects of vaccines are erased when an individual contracts measles.
“When parents say no to getting a measles vaccine, you’re not just taking a risk of your kid getting measles, you’re causing them to lose this amazing resource of defenses they’ve built up over the years before measles, and that puts them at risk of catching other infections,” said Dr. Michael J. Mina of the Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital