JAN 24, 2017 3:20 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
JUL 31, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Light from the Big Bang Reveals Age of the Universe
JUL 31, 2020
Light from the Big Bang Reveals Age of the Universe
From analyzing ancient light emitted by the Big Bang, physicists have been able to provide a new estimate of the Earth&# ...
AUG 27, 2020
Plants & Animals
Polar Bear Populations Could Collapse by 2100
AUG 27, 2020
Polar Bear Populations Could Collapse by 2100
A new study reports that polar bear populations could collapse in the next 80 years if greenhouse gas emissions remain a ...
SEP 10, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Could There Be Life on Venus?
SEP 10, 2020
Could There Be Life on Venus?
Venus is the hottest planet in our solar system, reaching 465 degrees Celcius- a temperature hot enough to melt lead. Wh ...
SEP 17, 2020
Space & Astronomy
What the Sun's New Weather Cycle Means for Earth
SEP 17, 2020
What the Sun's New Weather Cycle Means for Earth
Scientists have confirmed that the sun is nine months into a new solar cycle, and that this 11-year cycle will resemble ...
OCT 02, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
A New Way of Building Houses: 3-D Printing with Clay
OCT 02, 2020
A New Way of Building Houses: 3-D Printing with Clay
Our ancestors had a long history of building dwelling structures using clay and plant-based fibrous materials. Even thes ...
JAN 11, 2021
Immunology
Can Immune cells contribute to Lung Diseases Severity?!
JAN 11, 2021
Can Immune cells contribute to Lung Diseases Severity?!
Macrophages are a type of immune cell that can detect and destruct bacteria, viruses, and harmful materials. They a ...
Loading Comments...