JAN 24, 2017 03:20 PM PST

The Measles Vaccine Pays Extra Dividends, Say Scientists

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

When the US instituted measles vaccination back in the 1960s, they expected it to prevent and contain measles outbreaks. Indeed, children all over the country stopped getting measles. But the vaccine seemed to have a huge and unforeseen benefit: the rate of childhood death from infectious diseases took a nose-dive.

How did vaccinating children against measles also protect them against other deadly diseases? For years, scientists chalked it up to better healthcare in children who received the vaccines. They reasoned that those who were vaccinated were also more likely to have access to antibiotics and other vaccines.

But, there's more to measles than meets the eye. The virus, as it turns out, is capable of erasing a person's immune protection to other diseases. In essence, the measles virus confers amnesia to the person's immune system, making them more susceptible to deadly diseases that their body would have otherwise known how to fight.

Scientists are still trying to understand the complexity of the measles virus. But one thing is clear, the measles vaccine works, and it protects children all over the world from more than just measles.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
NOV 13, 2018
Technology
NOV 13, 2018
Here's Why Hydrogen-Powered Cars Haven't Become Mainstream
The automobile industry today is still dominated by gasoline-powered vehicles, but electric cars like those from Tesla are gaining a lot of traction in the...
NOV 19, 2018
Videos
NOV 19, 2018
The Amazon's worst enemy
Brazil has a new leader, and he could be the Amazon’s biggest enemy yet. President Jair Bolsonaro has pledged to sell off large portions of the rainf...
NOV 25, 2018
Videos
NOV 25, 2018
What If Earth Spun the Other Way?
If once upon a time the Earth spun the other way—the seasons wouldn’t change because of the Earths tilt. But, what would change is the climate ...
NOV 27, 2018
Space & Astronomy
NOV 27, 2018
Here's What Makes Mars So Challenging to Land On
Humankind has sent spacecraft to a plethora of worlds in our solar system, including asteroids, comets, moons, and planets. Of all, Mars has consistently p...
NOV 28, 2018
Videos
NOV 28, 2018
What critics think about the first gene-edited babies
Chinese scientist He Jiankui took advantage of the International Human Genome Editing Summit in Hong Kong to publicize the results of his Crispr-Cas9 trial...
DEC 09, 2018
Cardiology
DEC 09, 2018
Discharge After Angioplasty Safe, Reduces Cost
Of the 600,000 coronary angioplasties performed in the United States each year, about half of them are elective procedures. A person may opt to undergo the...
Loading Comments...