A new study published in Science Magazine has showed that measles vaccine helps the immune system fight other infectious diseases as well. So the vaccine does not only protect you against measles, but it also fights other infectious viruses which might take advantage of your weakened immune system.
It is a well-known fact that when one has measles the immune system can be weakened for months or weeks. This can expose patients, particularly children, at an enhanced risk of developing fatal infections caused by hosts of germs.
In this new research scientists have discovered that the period in which the immune system is vulnerable lasts up to three years, which is far longer than expected. Consequently the benefits of avoiding measles are also extended. The study also discovered that measles vaccination campaigns led to a drop in the number of deaths caused by other infectious diseases.
The team of researchers was formed of scientists from the Emory University, Princeton University, the Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam (Netherlands) and the National Institutes of Health in Maryland. The team examined data about the situation in the US, England, Wales and Denmark before and after mass measles vaccinations.
According to the findings of the study a decline in measles cases was reported in all the countries. Moreover a drop in on-measles infections was also registered. For example in the US deaths causes by infection cases such as diarrheal or respiratory disease dropped from 18 per 100.000 to six per 100.000. This suggests that the measles vaccine plays an important role by helping the immune system keep its fighting memories. As a result this decreases the mortality rate caused by other infectious diseases.
Infectious disease specialist Richard Wenzel of the Virginia Commonwealth University was not involved in the study, but he remarked:
“The message is clear. Not only is the vaccine safe and effective against measles, but it may also save a child’s life by helping to guard against other infections.”
The measles virus is common and highly contagious. According to CDC (the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) this virus kills 17 people across the globe every hour. It can be preventet with the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine. One dose of the MMR vaccine is 93% effective at fighting measles, whereas two doses increse the effectiveness to 97%. In the case of children CDC recommends two doses.
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