Measles has a stealth side effect: New research shows it erases much of the immune system’s memory of how to fight other germs, so children recover only to be left more vulnerable to bugs like flu or strep.
Scientists dubbed the startling findings “immune amnesia.” The body can rebuild those defenses — but it could take years.
And with measles on the rise, “it should be a scary phenomenon,” said Dr. Michael Mina of Harvard’s school of public health, lead author of research published Thursday in the journal Science.
“This goes under the radar” because doctors wouldn’t necessarily connect a child’s pneumonia to measles they suffered a year earlier, Mina explained. “But would they have gotten it if they hadn’t gotten measles?”