Measles wipes children’s immune system

06 December 2019

A new study has shown that measles damages the immune system, leaving children who recover more vulnerable to other infections.

The study, led by Harvard Medical School, underscores the importance of preventing measles through vaccination.

Reporting in Science, researchers described the mechanism and scope of this measles-induced ‘immune amnesia’.

They looked at antibodies in the blood of 77 children in the Netherlands before and after a measles infection. They found that measles eliminated 11% to 73% of the antibodies that protect against viral and bacterial strains – from influenza and herpes to bacteria that cause pneumonia and skin infections.

‘The threat measles poses to people is much greater than we previously imagined,’ says senior author Stephen Elledge.

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