I am trying to understand this statement about the Measles part of the MMR (Mumps, Measles and Rubella) vaccine

Measles prevention: MMR (AB protect during primary and secondary viremia)

Measles enters from respiratory tract, through mucosa of the upper respiratory tract. The virus passes into cervical lymph nodes. Now, starts first viremia (MMR somehow helping here) which lasts about 5 days. Then antibodies are secreted during 15 days which leads to rash lasting about 3 days.

I think this second viremia refers to the possible dissemination of the virus to other lymph nodes by blood. This suggests me that the vaccine primarily have a mechanism that affects in the lymph nodes or generally in the lymphatic circulation.

How MMR vaccine affect lymph nodes in preventing measles?


1 Answer 1


Lets define viremia first: The primary viremia occurs in the cells which the virus enters first in the body. There it replicates to high titers before it leaves this cells, spreads through the body and infects other cells. This is then the second viremia.

For measles the primary viremia occurs in the respiratory epithelium and in the local lymph nodes. The second viremia then occurs in skin, conjunctiva, respiratory tract, and other distant organs. In this phase also the characteristic rash occurs due to a hypersensitivity reaction of the skin. For details see here and here.

The measles vaccine works like any other vaccine: By raising an immune response against the vaccination virus. This leads to a normal immune response which leads to the production of specific antibodies against the measles virus and also to immunologic memory. These antibodies are available to fight the virus when it enters the body of a vaccinated person. This also triggers the proliferation of virus specific memory B cells which then differentiate into plasma cells and produce vast amounts of protective antibodies. So there is no special mechanism involved here beyond immunologic memory.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your answer with appropriate sources! I think similar immunopathology exist also for Rubella (German measles); the MMR vaccine seems to affect similarly as for measles. $\endgroup$ May 27, 2014 at 18:50
  • $\begingroup$ You're always welcome. It is the same for rubella, the antibodies protect effectively against the virus. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    May 27, 2014 at 19:04

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