Background: Transient immunosuppression and increased susceptibility to other infections after measles infection is well
known, but recent studies have suggested the occurrence of an “immune amnesia” that could have long-term immunosuppressive effects.
Methods: We examined the association between past measles infection and acute episodes of fever, cough, and diarrhea among
2350 children aged 9 to 59 months whose mothers were selected for interview in the 2013–2014 Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Demographic and Health Survey (DHS). Classification of children who had had measles was completed using maternal recall and measles immunoglobulin G serostatus obtained via dried-blood-spot analysis with a multiplex immunoassay. The association with time since measles infection and fever, cough, and diarrhea outcomes was also examined.
Results: The odds of fever in the previous 2 weeks were 1.80 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.25–2.60) among children for
whom measles was reported compared to children with no history of measles. Measles vaccination demonstrated a protective association against selected clinical markers of acute infectious diseases.
Conclusion: Our results suggest that measles might have a long-term effect on selected clinical markers of acute infectious diseases among children aged 9 to 59 months in the DRC. These findings support the immune-amnesia hypothesis suggested by others and underscore the need for continued evaluation and improvement of the DRC’s measles vaccination program.
Keywords: cough, diarrhea, fever, immunosuppression, measles.
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