April 15, 2019

DISEASE IS ANTI-VAX, TOO: Measles Cases Continue to Soar, Stirring Concern Over Long-Term Effects.

The virus continues to flare up in the U.S. among groups whose vaccination rates are low, often after exposure to overseas travelers who return with the disease. An outbreak among Orthodox Jews in New York City this year has led to a surge in U.S. cases. New York City health officials said Friday that there have been 285 measles cases in the city, and more than 11,000 people have been exposed to the virus.

Researchers who study the virus say that concern about these outbreaks extends beyond the effect of the initial infection to longer-term implications for the health of the victims.

The virus may leave the immune system in a temporary state of amnesia, leaving the body’s defenses unable to remember and effectively attack some invaders it has seen before, according to emerging research. Immune-system memory loss could leave the body prone to more severe infections for two to three years, until it relearns from hard-won experience how to fend off attackers, researchers have said.

“You don’t have that quick response,” said Michael Mina, an assistant professor at Harvard University who studies immune-system response to the virus. “You have to create it from scratch again.”

I’ve always thought we’d beat infectious disease in the 21st Century, at least in the developed world, but things like this make me wonder.

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