CATCHING measles cripples children’s immune system for up to five years, researchers found.
They claim the virus knocks out the body’s defences and causes them to revert to a “baby-like” state.
It means measles sufferers are left at much greater long-term risk of flu and other deadly infections.
In some cases the effect is so strong, it is like having their entire immune system wiped out. Around one in 75 kids is killed directly by measles.
Scientists say the illness, called immune amnesia, explains why vaccinating against the virus has helped to slash childhood deaths from infections by up to half.
Researchers from the Wellcome Sanger Institute and Amsterdam University said getting the measles jab was more crucial than ever to protect against a host of illnesses.
The study, published in Science Immunology, looked at 26 unvaccinated children before and after catching measles.
The findings come after the UK lost its World Health Organisation “measles-free” status as parents shunned jabs following scare stories online.
Cases more than doubled in two years and the infection rate is rising.