Measles may target immune memory cells, according to report
Measles infections possess the ability to destroy protective memory cells in the immune system, leaving the body weak to fight off diseases -- even diseases that have been rendered ineffective through vaccinations.
Although it was already known that the measles infection weakens the immune system, this new study, led by lead author and postdoctoral infectious disease researcher Michael Mina of Princeton University, shows that the measles' detrimental effect on the immune system's ability to overcome disease, such as pneumonia or encephalitis, can extend up to three years.
“These findings suggest that a measles infection can wipe out the cells the immune system utilizes to remember potentially deadly infections," Mina said in a press release. "These memory cells of a person’s immune system helps the body recall how to fight off all the bad bugs encountered on a daily basis."
The findings of this study reinforces the importance of vaccinations among children, who after exposure to the measles, have to spend a long time building up their immune systems while remaining at risk to other infections.