CATCHING measles leaves kids vulnerable to other killer infections for the next three years, research reveals.
Scientists said it explains why vaccinating against the disease, which is seeing a resurgence in the UK, helps slash childhood deaths by up to half.
Around one in 75 kids infected with measles is killed directly by the bug.
But now a study shows the impact continues for years afterwards, raising their risk of chest infections and viral illnesses.
The findings were revealed at the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Vaccine Conference.
Lead researcher Dr Michael Mina, from Harvard University, said: “The epidemiological data from the UK, USA and Denmark shows measles causes children to be at a heightened risk of infectious disease mortality from other non-measles infections for approximately 2-3 years.”
Experts claim having measles “knocks out” the immune systems memory of previous illnesses, leaving youngsters more vulnerable.
Dr Mina added: “Because we now think that measles infections may erase pre-existing immune memory, by preventing measles infection through vaccination, we prevent future infection with other diseases allowed back into the body by the damage done by measles.
“This suggests that measles may have been associated with as much as half of all childhood deaths due to infectious diseases prior to vaccination.”
Measles infections may erase pre-existing immune memory
Dr Michael Mina
A previous UK study found kids were up to 24 per cent more likely to need antibiotics in the five years after suffering measles.
And they were at greater risk of chest infections, viral illnesses and tonsillitis.
The findings come after the UK lost its World Health Organisation “measles-free” status, as parents shunned jabs for children following scare stories on the internet.
Cases more than doubled in two years and the infection rate is rising.
What is measles?
MEASLES is a highly infectious viral illness that can sometimes lead to very serious complications.
It can cause things like pneumonia and encephalitis – both of which can kill or leave people seriously disabled for the rest of their lives.
Now, experts are calling for measles vaccinations to be made mandatory in certain countries.
It’s given in two doses as part of the NHS childhood vaccination programme.
The first jab is given to kids at around 13 months old, while a second dose is administered at around three years, four months.
There is no link at all between having the MMR vaccine and autism – even in children who have other risk factors for the condition, scientists confirmed back in March.
That’s the conclusion of a nationwide study of all children born in Denmark to Danish-born mums between 1999 and 2010.
Last week, we revealed that anti-vaxxer parents were holding “measles parties” to give their kids the deadly virus.
There were 532 in the first half of this year — yet 259 in all of 2017, says Public Health England.
All kids should get two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine before primary school to be fully protected – usually at 12 months and three years and four months.
But the number of children starting classes fully vaccinated in England is at its lowest level in more than five years, with 87.2 per cent covered.
It is well below the official 95 per cent target.
Dr Jamie Lopez Bernal, from Public Health England, said: “These findings only add to the evidence of the phenomenal impact of vaccination programmes.
“No other medical intervention has been as important in the last 50 years.
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“UK measles vaccination has prevented 20 million cases and 4,500 deaths – and that’s not taking into account the potential other benefits.
“This is about not only protecting ourselves but protecting each other.
“Vaccines stop the spread of disease and save lives.”
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