Study shows how measles virus causes immune amnesia
The new case report series deals with three people with measles who developed additional complications. For instance, the first was a young man who was only partially immunized against measles, with one dose in childhood instead of two. He developed hepatitis, or liver inflammation, as well.
In the second case, a young woman developed appendicitis in addition to measles. And in the last case report, a middle-aged patient with measles later developed viral meningitis, diagnosed after he reported blurring of vision and a bad headache. The implications
In all cases, the patients were given proper care and treated with the appropriate tools. All recovered without lasting sequelae.
However, these occurrences are far from unique. In almost 1 of 3 cases, the disease is complicated by another illness, which can involve any organ of the body. This could include pneumonia, seizures caused by high temperatures, and encephalomyelitis, which refers to inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. The patients could have neurological sequelae as a result of these complications.
Another known though rare complication of measles is subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE), in which the nervous system undergoes progressive damage, finally leaving the affected person to live like a vegetable.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that most complications in measles today occur in children below 5 and adults over 20 years of age, as well as pregnant women and those with weakened immunity. The most common complications requiring intensive care include pneumonia, but post-infectious encephalomyelitis comes a close second.
These complications hit almost every system in the body because the virus is capable of infecting epithelial, reticuloendothelial, and white blood cells, resulting in a severe loss of immunity. In fact, the observed decline in CD4 lymphocytes begins before the rash appears and lasts for as long as one month.
The authors conclude, “Urgent efforts are needed to ensure global coverage with two-dose measles vaccines through education and strengthening of national immunization systems.” Journal reference:
Xerri T, Darmanin N, Zammit MA, et alComplications of measles: a case series, BMJ Case Reports CP 2020;13:e232408. https://casereports.bmj.com/content/13/2/e232408
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