With the discovery last week of 2 cases of measles in Auckland, I thought I’d pull together a few of the posts that I wrote during our last outbreak (in 2019) but which are still very relevant.
Measles isn’t a benign disease, and unfortunately vaccination coverage for it has declined over the last few years, both here in Aotearoa NZ and globally. It’s estimated that globally up to 128,000 children died of this vaccine-preventable disease (VPD) in 2021.
Measles infections cause what’s known as immune amnesia – the virus damages the immune system’s “memory” functions, resulting in a loss of acquired immunity to other infectious diseases. This amnesia can last 2-3 years after the initial measles infection, with epidemiological data showing the impact on subsequent illness & death from other infectious diseases & on epidemic spread. Incidentally, measles is not the only virus to damage immune system functioning. The article at that link is well-worth reading in its entirety.
There are socioeconomic costs to measles – that link is from 2017, so the financial burdens to both individual families and the taxpayer will only have increased since then.