Measles is not a harmless childhood disease. In the worst case, an infection can be fatal. So much is known. But researchers at the Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI), in collaboration with researchers from the UK and the Netherlands, have now found that the measles virus erases part of their immune memory over the years.
This means that affected people are more susceptible to infections with other pathogens after surviving the disease.
In Germany, measles vaccination is mandatory from 2020. So Kita children, students and certain adults have to prove that they have been vaccinated. Not without reason – because infections are on the rise, although measles must have been eradicated long ago.
For example, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) speaks of a resurgence of measles in Europe. Accordingly, five countries, including Germany, where transmissions are still endemic – that is, within the population – are responsible for this.
Measles can be fatal
Measles infections can be fatal in severe cases. In addition, the virus weakens the patient's immune system to other pathogens. Thus, in a measles infection more often to other infections such as bacterial lung or middle ear infections.
In addition, a UK measles cohort study found that ten to fifteen percent of children still showed signs of significant immune system impairment five years after a measles infection. In turn, this has led to an increased occurrence of more infections.
Measles vaccine also protects against other infectious diseases
Measles is no reason to party. "The measles vaccine is not only important for protection against measles viruses, but also protects against the onset or serious progression of other infectious diseases," emphasizes Professor Klaus Cichutek, president of the Paul Ehrlich Institute. It protects immune memory, which can be severely impaired in measles infections.
According to the Paul Ehrlich Institute, the results now confirm that the immune system following a measles infection has virtually forgotten which pathogens it had come into contact with.
To this end, animals (ferrets) were initially immunized against influenza (influenza) and some animals infected with the mutant canine distemper virus, which is related to the measles virus. Animals infected with canine distemper virus lost most of the influenza antibodies and had a more severe course of disease compared to non-virus infected animals when they were later infected with the influenza virus.
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