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Vaccine. 2001 Dec 12;20(5-6):651-65.

Current overview of the pathogenesis and prophylaxis of measles with focus on practical implications.

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Merck Institute for Vaccinology, 770 Sumneytown Pike, West Point, PA 19486, USA.


Measles is one of the most important diseases of mankind, which is so highly contagious and evokes such persistent immunity that the virus cannot be sustained in a population of less than about 500,000 persons. The first of the licensed live virus vaccines against measles was developed empirically and was approved in 1963. It provides high level and lasting immunity and is a paradigm for solving major medical problems without really understanding them. In spite of means for control by prophylactic immunization, research on measles infection continues to be part of the effort to understand the pathogenesis of many different viruses, which may have important similarities and differences and provide important insights. Measles, usually, is spontaneously reversible and is a prime model for understanding virus-induced immunodeficiency disease (AIDS) which is rarely reversible. Much has been learned of basic immunology and vaccinology in measles through observation of the inappropriate use of vaccines of appropriate composition, and through inappropriate host response to measles vaccines of inappropriate composition. This review provides a current overview of selected highlights of measles, the virus, its immunopathogenesis, and its control by use of live virus vaccine which may lead to elimination of the disease and eventually to eradication of the virus.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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