New research shows measles can weaken the immune system for years.

Two separate investigations into the immune systems of 77 unvaccinated children before and after measles infection have revealed the infection can cripple immunity against viruses and bacteria for the long-term.

Measles creates a kind of “immune amnesia” that leaves individuals more vulnerable to future infections by other pathogens, the studies show.

Researchers say the findings emphasise the need for widespread vaccination, which may not only prevent measles, but may also prevent the weakening of “herd immunity” to other kinds of pathogens.

The two papers are accessible here and here.

Measles is on the rise worldwide, with the UK and other European countries losing WHO elimination status for measles in August this year.

Eight recent cases involving airline passengers believed to be infectious between 8th-16th October 2019 were reported by Queensland Health. The state has now seen 19 cases as the infection spreads.

Treatment for measles once acquired comes mostly in the form of supportive care, so vaccination to prevent spread of the disease of the utmost importance.

Vaccine expert Professor Nikolai Petrovsky from Flinders University has reflected on the findings.

“What is particularly surprising in this work is that measles infection is shown to be able to deplete already existing memory B cell and antibodies already present in the individual, part of the adaptive immune system previously thought to be relatively resilient against viral attack,” he said.

“This study yet again dispels the dangerous myths perpetuated by homeopaths and other ‘natural’ healers who claim that exposure of infants to natural infection is important to ‘strengthen' children’s immune systems.

“This terrible misinformation has been used to justify not just refusals of parents to vaccinate their children but even the shocking practice where parents have infection parties where children are deliberately exposed to other children with measles or other viral infections in order to deliberately infect them.

“Such practices should clearly be globally outlawed and parents subjecting their children to deliberate infection should arguably be faced with criminal charges as should any practitioners advocating or supporting such misguided behaviour.”