Wait, why would anyone think that the polio vaccine could be linked to outbreaks of hand, foot, and mouth disease?
“Scientific researchers have discovered that the infectious disease Hand,Foot and Mouth Disease is vaccine-induced and then spread to others through shedding from the Polio Vaccine. Enterovirus 71 (EV71) causes Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease. The polio vaccine (OPV and IPV) is contaminated with EV71. It, along with EV-D68 and several other enteroviruses and coxsackie viruses are used in the manufacturing of the polio vaccines, which are given to children three times in the first year of life, and again between 4-6 years of life. Bottom line: children recently vaccinated with the polio vaccine are shedding the EV71 that causes the most serious complications of HFMD. ”
Health Freedom Idaho
Is the Polio Vaccine Linked to Outbreaks of Hand Foot Mouth Disease?
Health Freedom Idaho makes some very serious claims and even links to a research article, which in most cases, you would expect to support their claims.
Not surprisingly, the article, A Dominant EV71-Specific CD4+ T Cell Epitope Is Highly Conserved among Human Enteroviruses, says absolutely nothing about contamination of vaccines and nothing about shedding.
“Recognizing disingenuous claims made by the anti-vaccination movement is essential in order to critically evaluate the information and misinformation encountered online.”
Anna Kata Anti-vaccine activists, Web 2.0, and the postmodern paradigm – An overview of tactics and tropes used online by the anti-vaccination movement
What about a link between polio vaccines and hand, foot, and mouth disease?
Well, hand, foot, and mouth disease is typically caused by the coxsackievirus A16 and EV71, which are enteroviruses. So is the polio virus. In fact, the Enterovirus genus is made up of 15 different species and 100s of different viruses. And they are all in the same Picornavirus family.
And that’s likely why researchers have found that “the most dominant epitope is highly conserved among enterovirus species, including HFMD-related coxsackieviruses, HFMD-unrelated echoviruses and polioviruses.”
“An epitope refers to the specific target against which an individual antibody binds.”
What is an Epitope?
So basically, this research isn’t saying that the polio vaccines are contaminated or that they cause hand, foot, mouth disease.
What it is saying, is that if you have been vaccinated with the polio vaccine, then you might have some protection against other enteroviruses!
“As shown here, poliovirus vaccination may have an impact on subsequent severity of HFMD disease. Cross-reactivity between EV71 A3 epitope and the A3v epitope of poliovirus 3 Sabin strain, may lead to the stimulation of protective, cross-reactive T cell responses, limiting the severity of subsequent HFMD.”
Wei et al. on A Dominant EV71-Specific CD4+ T Cell Epitope Is Highly Conserved among Human Enteroviruses
Yay for cross-reactivity!
“Cross-reactivity between antigens occurs when an antibody directed against one specific antigen is successful in binding with another, different antigen. The two antigens in question have similar three-dimensional structural regions, known as epitopes, which allow the antibody for one antigen to recognize a second antigen as being structurally the same antigen.”
Stephen J. Chadwick, MD
So you get antibodies from the polio vaccine and these antibodies cross react with the viruses that cause hand, foot, and mouth disease, which could lead to milder symptoms, because it is like you already have some antibodies to that virus too!
“HFMD outbreaks could occur where polio vaccination has failed, due to lack of refrigeration or other breaks in the cold chain that (might) go unreported.”
Exploring the Link between Polio Vaccination and Hand Foot Mouth Disease
In China, where outbreaks of hand, foot, and mouth disease are much more severe than they are in the United States, often leading to life-threatening disease, there has been a concern that the increased number of outbreaks could be linked to a failure of their polio vaccines, since getting vaccinated could be protective.
That’s the link the research is talking about…
I actually asked one of the researchers about what anti-vaccine folks were saying about their study and they told me:
“Well, that’s actually totally backwards. Our article suggests that FAILURE to get vaccinated with polio vaccine might set you up for Hand Food Mouth disease (EV71).”
Bottom line: polio vaccines are not contaminated and children recently vaccinated with the polio vaccine are not shedding the EV71 that causes the most serious complications of HFMD. Health Freedom Idaho made the whole thing up.
More on Linking the Polio Vaccine to Hand Foot Mouth Disease
- Exploring the Link between Polio Vaccination and Hand Foot Mouth Disease
- Severity and burden of hand, foot and mouth disease in Asia: a modelling study
- About Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD)
- Non-Polio Enterovirus
- Factsheet about enteroviruses
- National Enterovirus Surveillance System (NESS)
- Enterovirus Genus
- What is an Epitope?
- Hand, Foot, and Mouth: If you have kids, this is a must read!
- Cross-Reactivity, Epitope Spreading, and De Novo Immune Stimulation Are Possible Mechanisms of Cross-Protection of Nonvaccine Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Types in Recipients of HPV Therapeutic Vaccines
- Review – Anti-vaccine activists, Web 2.0, and the postmodern paradigm – An overview of tactics and tropes used online by the anti-vaccination movement
- Antivax 101
- The truth behind common vaccine misconceptions