The recent rise in reported cases of measles throughout the US and around the world has been a grave concern for public health officials. Two new studies show the impact of the disease may be ongoing and far more damaging than originally anticipated. Measles suppresses immunity. The most recent Harvard study released last week confirms a previous study and what has long been suspected by doctors: the probability that measles erases immune systems.
This means if you contract measles and recover successfully, your health could still be compromised for years to come. The study published in, Science, magazine states, “They found that measles infection can greatly diminish previously acquired immune memory, potentially leaving individuals at risk for infection by other pathogens.”
This is specifically dangerous as it relates to children since many measles deaths in youth are caused by secondary infection.
In simple terms, every time your body encounters a pathogen or bacteria and fights it off, there’s some “memory” of that within your immune system. This research finds measles, even if effectively treated, erases that memory or suppresses your body’s natural immune system. Beyond your body’s natural immunity there’s also reason to believe measles will compromise other vaccines’ efficacy, creating further risk of disease.
Between the years 2000-2017 the measles vaccine is credited with saving 21 million lives. In recent years due to anti-vaccination movements, the prominence of the disease is on the rise. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that during the first six months of 2019 alone there have been more cases of measles reported than any year since 2006.
As, Parentology, reported earlier this year, this rise in measles is being considered a public health crisis by organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and WHO. Many states like New York and California have legislated mandatory vaccinations for all children.
While the spread of measles is considered a significant health threat, the lasting and potentially deadly effects of the disease long after it’s treated may be cause for even greater alarm.