Sherri Tenpenny wants us to stop calling chickenpox and measles diseases.
She thinks that we should call them infections instead…
Should I Stop Calling Chickenpox and Measles Diseases?
If you are like most people, you are probably thinking to yourself and maybe even shouting at your computer screen right now, “who cares what you call them, just get vaccinated and stop the outbreaks!”
Believe it or not, there is actually some precedent for changing the way we talk about diseases. While you may still refer to them as STDs, or sexually transmitted diseases out of habit, the prefererable term is actually STI, or sexually tranmistted infection.
Of course, this has nothing to do with Tenpenny’s reasoning.
“Why the change? The concept of ‘disease,’ as in STD, suggests a clear medical problem, usually some obvious signs or symptoms. But several of the most common STDs have no signs or symptoms in the majority of persons infected. Or they have mild signs and symptoms that can be easily overlooked. So the sexually transmitted virus or bacteria can be described as creating ‘infection,’ which may or may not result in ‘disease.’ This is true of chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, and human papillomavirus (HPV), to name a few.
For this reason, for some professionals and organizations the term ‘disease’ is being replaced by ‘infection.'”
ASHA on STDs/STIs
In fact, their definitions sound nothing like Tenpennys…
Unfortunately, many STIs, even if they aren’t causing symptoms and disease, can still be contagious.
Measles and chickenpox don’t do that. Although you can be contagious just before you start to have symptoms, you will very quickly develop symptoms.
It is true that some viruses and bacteria can lead to subclinical infections, in which you develop immunity without ever developing symptoms, but that doesn’t usually happen with measles and chicken pox.
Polio is one of the best examples of when it does happen. Remember, nearly 75% of kids who got polio never had any symptoms. Tragically, those symptoms could be severe in the small percentage who did.
As most folks know, Ethan Lindenberger is the Ohio teen who got himself vaccinated over the objections of his mother, who had always believed that vaccines are dangerous.
During his testimony before Congress, Sen Isakson joked that “I would love to be at Thanksgiving dinner at your house. It would be a heck of a discussion.”
Hopefully the family is talking again by Thanksgiving…
The Ethan Lindenberger Story Isn’t Over
Surprisingly, instead of simply supporting her son’s decision, even if she didn’t agree with it, Ethan’s mom is actually speaking out against him.
“Ethan has had no education at all in this,” said Wheeler. “None, again, he was asking three months ago where to go to get vaccinated and now he’s sitting on a committee voicing his opinion for research he’s done on the internet?”
She even seems to have bought into some of the conspiracy theories folks have created about them.
“They’ve made him the poster child for the pharmaceutical industry.”
And unfortunately, as if they hadn’t done enough damage to this family, anti-vaccine folks are doubling down and continue to exploit them.
Ethan’s mom and brother even went out to California and appeared with Del Bigtree on his “show.”
So what led Ethan’s mom on the road to questioning vaccines?
“I remember going in and getting the chicken pox vaccine and after they had administered it, they said, well, you’re going to have to come back in about 10 to 15 years to have it redone. He’s going to have it again. I said well wait a minute, I thought that these vaccinations were forever. They were like well, no, you’re going to have to get it again in 10 years and probably 10 years after that.
I said then why don’t I just let him get the chicken pox? I had it. All my sisters had it. Everyone I know has had the chicken pox. Why don’t I just let him have the chicken pox? Oh no, you don’t want to do that. Just come every 10 years…
That’s when I went home and said somethings not adding up, somethings not adding up, I was always under the assumption that vaccines were a forever thing… I started researching…”
What jumps out the most about this story? There has never been a recommendation to repeat the chicken pox vaccine every ten years. In fact, when it first came out, it was thought that it would be a one time dose. A second dose was later added because we were seeing some mild breakthrough infections.
The only vaccine that we get every 10 years is the one that protects us against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. Would you like your child to get tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis so that they have natural immunity and don’t need the shot?
In addition to being very deadly, neither tetanus nor diphtheria infections provide you with natural immunity. And even natural pertussis infections don’t provide lifelong immunity.
We also learned that Ethan’s mom didn’t start her research on Facebook, which isn’t surprising, as Facebook didn’t exist when she first got started. But the anti-vaccine misinformation was there, as the anti-vaccine movement isn’t new. And at some point, she shifted to Facebook, YouTube and other internet sources, and that’s what she used to “debate” her son.
Del Bigtree: Sounds like a kid that goes off and you know starts smoking pot and shooting heroin.
Jill Wheeler: That’s what I’m saying, instead of that, he went and got vaccinated.
Del Bigtree: That’s how you rebel.
Jill Wheeler: That’s how you rebel.
Del Bigtree: Keep your pharmaceutical products I could get hooked on oxycontin, but I’m gonna go with vaccines.
For folks that talk about vaccine choice a lot, they don’t seem to like the choice that Ethan Lindenberger made…
“Well I think that us, taking a voice against what my brother is doing is going to be able to make an effort towards the Liberty movement to make sure that this lies an individual decision. “
Consider what a group of anti-vaccine folks did with the above post about a child with severe complications to a chicken pox infection…
What are some of the big complications of chicken pox infections? Complications that help make chicken pox deadly?
That’s right, secondary skin and soft tissue bacterial infections (cellulitis and necrotizing fasciitis). In fact, bacterial super-infections of the skin are the most common complication of chicken pox infections.
“Necrotizing fasciitis can lead to sepsis, shock, and organ failure. It can also result in life-long complications from loss of limbs or severe scarring due to surgically removing infected tissue. Even with treatment, up to 1 in 3 people with necrotizing fasciitis die from the infection.”
Necrotizing Fasciitis: All You Need to Know
No, chicken pox is not necrotizing fasciitis, but all of the breaks in the skin from chicken pox lesions give bacteria, including group A Streptococcus (group A strep) and Staphylococcus aureus, plenty of opportunities to enter a child’s body and quickly spread.
We often hear that chicken pox isn’t serious in other countries that don’t routinely use the chicken pox vaccine. Don’t believe them.
On average, about two young children die in the Netherlands each year due to chicken pox.
“Based on the results presented in this study we estimate that between 3 to 8% of all Dutch patients with varicella, depending on age, consult a GP due to a complication. Our findings are similar to data from Germany, France and the United States of America, were it is estimated that in approximately 2 to 6% of cases attending a general practice. Furthermore of these varicella patients 1.7% experiences complications severe enough to seek hospital care.”
Pierik et al on Epidemiological characteristics and societal burden of varicella zoster virus in the Netherlands
And folks in the Netherlands have similar rates of complications as we did in the United States in the pre-vaccine era and many are hospitalized.