New study says measles is more dangerous than previously thought, at times eliminating some of your body’s defenses against illnesses like strep, pneumonia or even the flu, for years to come.


What To Know

  • Harvard study measures how measles impacts the body beyond simply the disease itself.
  • Using blood samples from children before and after measles, scientists found antibodies (used to recognize and fight off viruses or bacteria) dropped upwards of 50% after the disease, making their bodies effectively “forget” how to fight off certain illnesses.

“Imagine that your immunity against pathogens is like carrying around a book of photographs of criminals, and someone punched a bunch of holes in it. It would then be much harder to recognize that criminal if you saw them, especially if the holes are punched over important features for recognition, like the eyes or mouth.”

Lead researcher Michael Mina describing how measles induced "immune amnesia" works in the body.

Something To Consider

  • A separate study says the body of a measles patient returned to a ‘baby-like” state of protection – vulnerable temporarily to any number of illnesses.
  • Researchers say measles patients will eventually regain the antibodies they lost, but it may take several years of re-exposure as their body learns to confront these threats again.

Why This Study Matters

Indicates measles impacts the body for years while we see a resurgence fo the highly contagious disease.

  • Measles cases in America are at a 25 year high, with the most measles cases since 1992.
  • As of end of October, 1,250 cases confirmed in 31 states.

Those connected to AND independent of the study alike believe this research underscores the need to vaccinate against measles because of the lasting impact of the illness.

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