We’ve known for year measles is contagious and dangerous.

The World Health Organization reports more than 100,000 unvaccinated people die from measles in many years. New research syggests getting measles, if it doesn’t kill you, can erase your immune system’s memory for quite a while.

According to infectious disease expert Dr. Ted Louie of the Medical Society of New Jersey, research now shows “shortly after you get measles your antibodies are not the same. Certain white blood cells do not retain memory of other past infections.”

Louie said this means, in effect, "the slate is wiped clean and you are prone to many more types of childhood illnesses that you would not have been otherwise.”

Research on the effect of measles was recently published in the journals Science and Science Immunology.

Louie noted some research indicates this immune amnesia lasts for a several weeks or months, while other studies find it can last for two or three years in some patients, but the bottom line is simple.

“After measles you are again prone to pretty much every childhood illness once again," Louie said. "You would be considered immune-compromised in a way.”

Louie stressed this should drive home the fact that measles vaccines should be universal.

“Herd immunity is important in preventing the spread of measles, and now we’re finding out that perhaps you’re also preventing the spread of other childhood illnesses, so it’s extremely important," he said.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.

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