Michael Mina of Harvard University in concerned about those big consequences found in recent studies. “It really puts you at increased susceptibility for everything else.”
Studies of lab animals, human tissue and children before and after they had measles, have revealed details about which immune cells are most at risk, how long the immune system generally suffers the after-effects of measles, and how the virus launches its sneak attack on its victims. The protection gleaned from a measles vaccination now appears much more far-reaching than was previously understood. Virologist Rik de Swart of Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands feels strongly about the topic, stating, “Wherever you introduce measles vaccination, you always reduce childhood mortality. Always.”
De Swart and fellow researchers, in 2013 were able to focus on an insulated village in the Netherlands made up of Orthodox Protestants who refused vaccinations for their children. This practice, unsurprisingly, resulted in measles outbreaks every few years. The villagers helped by giving permission to the scientists to collect blood samples, which they tested for immunity. They were willing to wait for the next outbreak, but as they finished collecting blood samples, another outbreak began, emptying classrooms to another round of the measles virus. The researchers discovered cells in the victims of measles had lost their immunity memory created in protecting the body from previous infections. This meant the person who recovered from measles had a new vulnerability to everything else for months or even years while their cells recovered. In comparing health records of UK children from 1990 to 2014, and measuring by the quantity of issued prescriptions for infections; the researchers found that children who had measles were 15 to 24 percent more likely to suffer infections than children who never had measles. Before the measles vaccine, childhood deaths were much higher than following implementation of vaccine programs. While it is true that most children recover from a bout of the measles uneventfully, it is also true that measles can reset the body in ways of which we were previously unaware.
Not sure if you are exposed? After an infected person coughs or sneezes, the measles virus can linger in the air and on surfaces for up to two hours, waiting to make its way into the airways of its next victims. Your Medical records should let you know if you have been immunized, but tests can also be run today to determine if you have immunity to many of the diseases making a comeback. Find out more about measles on Science News.