Clearance of measles virus is complex. Infectious virus is cleared by the adaptive immune response manifested by the characteristic maculopapular rash. CD8+ T cells are major effectors of infectious virus clearance, a process that may fail in individuals with compromised cellular immune responses leading to progressive giant cell pneumonia and/or measles inclusion body encephalitis. In contrast to the usual rapid clearance of infectious virus, clearance of viral RNA is slow with persistence in lymphoid tissue for many months. Persistence of MeV RNA may contribute to the late development of the slowly progressive disease subacute sclerosing panencephalitis in children infected at a young age and to measles-associated immune suppression but also to maturation of the immune response and development of life-long immunity.
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