Now, scientists find that this vulnerable period goes on much longer than thought, up to three years. So the benefit of avoiding measles also extends longer than was appreciated. Researchers also found that measles vaccination campaigns were followed by a drop in deaths for other infectious diseases.
Experts said the work is a wake-up call to parents who don't vaccinate their children out of unfounded fears about a link between vaccines and autism.
Measles, marked by fever, cough and a blotchy rash, has been eliminated in the U.S. for more than a decade thanks to an aggressive vaccination effort. Outbreaks still crop up when Americans or foreign visitors become infected overseas and spread the virus among populations that are not vaccinated.
In the latest study, an international team of researchers analyzed measles cases and death rates from other infections before and after widespread measles vaccination campaigns in the U.S., England and Wales, and Denmark.
After vaccinations, measles cases declined in all the countries. Deaths from non-measles infections also dropped. In the U.S., deaths from infections such as respiratory or diarrheal disease fell from 18 per 100,000 before vaccination to 6 per 100,000 after vaccination. Researchers attribute the drop to fewer measles cases caused by the introduction of the vaccine.
The team found it took two to three years after getting measles for the immune system to rebuild.
The study, released Thursday by the journal Science, was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and federal grants.
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/nation_world/20150508_Study__Vaccination_against_measles_may_have_other_benefits.html#E8VJ4Ol4rbiXYKZS.99