Tag: small pox photos

Recognizing Old Vaccine Scars

Do you have a scar on your arm and you aren’t sure why it is there?

Having a smallpox vaccine scar makes you a part of history.
Having a smallpox vaccine scar makes you a part of history.

Is it from the smallpox vaccine?

Recognizing Old Vaccine Scars

Classically, there are two vaccines that can leave a scar – the ones that protect us against smallpox and tuberculosis.

“BCG scar is a surrogate marker of vaccination and an important index in the vaccination program.”

Dhanawade et al on Scar formation and tuberculin conversion following BCG vaccination in infants: A prospective cohort study

And there are a few easy ways to tell if you have a smallpox scar.

When were you born? Remember, the smallpox vaccine hasn’t been used in the United States since the early 1970s and its use stopped everywhere in 1986.

And where were you born?

The BCG (bacille Calmette-Guerin) vaccine, on the other hand, is still in use in many countries, and is given at birth to prevent tuberculosis disease, including meningitis and disseminated tuberculosis. It isn’t routinely used in the United States though “because of the low risk of infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the variable effectiveness of the vaccine against adult pulmonary TB, and the vaccine’s potential interference with tuberculin skin test reactivity.”

Do you have a vaccine scar on your arm?
Do you have a vaccine scar on your arm? Photo by Earl Hershfield

In general though:

  • the BCG vaccine scar has a raised center
  • the smallpox vaccine scar is depressed, with lines that radiate to the edges

Complicating matters is the fact that you can have multiple scars from each vaccine…

“In 1972, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization in Canada recommended that routine immunization of infants for smallpox be stopped. Very few Canadians born after 1972 have been immunized against smallpox. Those, like me, who were immunized prior to that date have little or no immunity left. Nothing, but a small scar as testimony to a grand global achievement.”

Diane Kelsall on A Small Scar

Do you have any vaccine scars?

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Do You Know What Vaccine-Preventable Diseases Look Like?

Odds are that you have never seen anyone with smallpox, but what about measles or mumps?

No?

Have you ever even seen someone with chicken pox?

Photos of Vaccine-Preventable Disease

Maybe if more folks knew what typical vaccine-preventable diseases looked like, then they wouldn’t be so quick to think about skipping or delaying their kids vaccines.

And they certainly wouldn’t think that these are mild diseases that they wanted their kids to get, thinking natural immunity would be better than the immunity that they could more easily and safely get from a vaccine.

Severe dehydration in a child with a rotavirus infection.
Severe dehydration in a child with a rotavirus infection.

Kids with diphtheria develop a bull neck and a thick pseudomembrane that covers their throat.
Kids with diphtheria develop a bull neck and a thick pseudomembrane that covers their throat. Photo by the Japanese Society of Tropical Medicine

Can an unvaccinated child really get tetanus after a toe nail injury?
Can an unvaccinated child really get tetanus after a toe nail injury? Photo by Petrus Rudolf de Jong (CC BY 3.0)

Newborns and infants have the highest rates of death from pertussis.
Newborns and infants have the highest rates of death from pertussis or whooping cough.

An infant with measles during the 2014 outbreaks in the Philippines.
An infant with measles during the 2014 outbreaks in the Philippines. Photo by Jim Goodson, M.P.H.

Mumps causes kids to have fever, puffy cheeks, and a painful, swollen jaw.
Mumps causes kids to have fever, puffy cheeks, and a painful, swollen jaw.

A baby with a congenital cataract and blueberry muffin rash - classic signs of congenital rubella syndrome.
A baby with a congenital cataract and blueberry muffin rash – classic signs of congenital rubella syndrome. (CC BY-NC-SA)

In addition to respiratory problems (think iron lungs), polio causes muscle atrophy.
In addition to respiratory problems (think iron lungs), polio causes muscle atrophy. (CC BY-NC 4.0)

This 2016 hepatitis A outbreak linked to frozen strawberries led to 143 cases and 56 hospitalizations.
This 2016 hepatitis A outbreak linked to frozen strawberries led to 143 cases and 56 hospitalizations.

Chronic hepatitis B is a silent killer.
Chronic hepatitis B is a silent killer.

A papilloma caused by HPV on the vocal cords of a child with recurrent respiratory papillomatosis.
A papilloma caused by HPV on the vocal cords of a child with recurrent respiratory papillomatosis. (CC BY 4.0)

Even if they survive, kids can lose fingers, toes, or even arms and legs to meningococcemia.
Even if they survive, kids can lose fingers, toes, or even arms and legs to meningococcal disease.

In addition to pneumonia and meningitis, the Hib bacteria can cause epiglottitis, making it very difficult to breath.
In addition to pneumonia and meningitis, the Hib bacteria can cause epiglottitis, making it very difficult to breath. Seen here are the ‘thumb sign’ on X-ray and the cherry red epiglottis.

Before wide use of the Hib and Prevnar vaccines, infants with fever would routinely get spinal taps and you would hope for clear fluid (cloudy fluid could be a sign of a bacterial infection).
Before wide use of the pneumococcal vaccines, infants with fever would routinely a get spinal tap to make sure that they didn’t have bacterial meningitis.

If a mother get chicken pox late in her pregnancy, her baby will be exposed before he is born and will develop chicken pox, often severe, in his first week of life.
If a mother get chicken pox late in her pregnancy, then her baby will be exposed before he is born and will develop chicken pox, often severe, in his first week of life. (CC by 3.0)

Although rare, even infants can develop shingles, most commonly if their mothers had a chicken pox infection while pregnant.
Although rare, even infants can develop shingles, most commonly if their mothers had a chicken pox infection while pregnant. (CC by 3.0)

Never touch a bat that you find on the ground during the day, as it might have rabies.
Animals acting strangely may have rabies. Photo by Radu Privantu (CC BY 2.0)

As in most years, flu deaths in children mostly occurred in kids who weren't vaccinated.
As in most years, flu deaths in children mostly occurred in kids who weren’t vaccinated.

Two kids with smallpox - one vaccinated and one unvaccinated. Can you guess which is which?
Two kids with smallpox – one vaccinated and one unvaccinated. Can you guess which is which?

Surprisingly, treatments haven't changed much since this photo was taken of a patient with yellow fever in 1898.
Surprisingly, treatments haven’t changed much since this photo was taken of a patient with yellow fever in 1898.

Mary Mallon (Typhoid Mary) was quarantined because she continued to work as a cook, spreading Salmonella typhi bacteria to other people.
Mary Mallon (Typhoid Mary) was quarantined because she continued to work as a cook, spreading Salmonella Typhi bacteria to other people.

Japanese encephalitis is spread by mosquito bites.
Japanese encephalitis is spread by mosquito bites.

I know what some of you are thinking. And no, just because these vaccine-preventable diseases aren’t as common as they used to be doesn’t mean that any of these vaccines aren’t necessary.

Why not?

We don’t see them as much as we did in the pre-vaccine era simply because these vaccines work!

“I also warn them not to share their fears with their neighbors, because if too many people avoid the MMR, we’ll likely see the diseases increase significantly.”

Dr. Bob Sears in The Vaccine Book

We all know what happens if we stop vaccinating.

And it is not just that we get a few updated photos of kids with measles, mumps, diphtheria, and other vaccine-preventable diseases…

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