Measles Infection Can Cause Damage To Immune System, Increasing Risk Of Contracting Other Diseases, 2 Studies Show

New York Times: Measles Can Cause ‘Immune Amnesia,’ Increasing Risk of Other Infections
“Measles is far more dangerous than most people realize, new research shows. The disease itself can cause a severe and sometimes deadly illness, but two new studies published on Thursday found that even when patients recover, the virus can inflict lasting harm on their immune systems…” (Grady, 10/31).

STAT: How measles infections can wipe away immunity to other diseases
“…The first paper, published in Science, showed that children infected with measles lost between 11% and 73% of their antibodies after infection. The authors, from Harvard University, noted the children studied had been healthy and well-nourished before contracting measles, and the impact on malnourished children in parts of the developing world is likely greater still. … The second paper, from researchers in Europe, was simultaneously published in the journal Science Immunology…” (Branswell, 10/31).

Washington Post: Measles makes your body forget how to fight other diseases
“…The discoveries have enormous and immediate public health implications, researchers and clinicians said, and underscore more than ever the importance of measles vaccination. In recent years, anti-vaccine misinformation has been one reason vaccination rates have plummeted and global measles cases have surged. … More than 7 million people are estimated to have been infected with measles in 2018, according to global health officials. Comprehensive coverage with the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine would prevent more than 120,000 deaths directly attributed to measles this year, and it could also ‘avert potentially hundreds of thousands of additional deaths attributable to the last damage to the immune system,’ the authors [of the Science paper] wrote…” (Sun, 10/31).

Additional coverage of the study is available from Financial Times, The Guardian, Newsweek, Reuters, Science, Scientific American, and Wired.

The KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report summarized news and information on global health policy from hundreds of sources, from May 2009 through December 2020. All summaries are archived and available via search.

KFF Headquarters: 185 Berry St., Suite 2000, San Francisco, CA 94107 | Phone 650-854-9400
Washington Offices and Barbara Jordan Conference Center: 1330 G Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005 | Phone 202-347-5270 | Email Alerts: | |

The independent source for health policy research, polling, and news, KFF is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.