Measles during early childhood can increase the risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in middle age.
However, only in adults with asthma and a considerable history of smoking, reveals a new Respirology study.
Measles also known as morbilli or rubeola or red measles, is a highly contagious viral disease caused by a virus belonging to paramyxovirus family. It causes upper respiratory symptoms, fever and rash.
Vaccinations have led to a 79% reduction in measles deaths from the year 2000 to 2014 all over the world.
In spite of this, measles is one of the main causes of death in young children. About 114 900 individuals died from measles in 2014; these included mainly children below 5 years of age.
While additional research is needed to confirm the findings, scientists speculate that airway damage from childhood measles may predispose an individual to asthma-like symptoms and increased susceptibility to airway obstruction if they also smoked.
"While we have found measles to not have an effect by itself, our findings suggest that infection in early childhood could contribute to COPD when combined with significant asthma and smoking histories," said lead author Dr. Jennifer Perret, of The University of Melbourne, in Australia.