POLIO "NON-OUTBREAK" AMONG THE AMISH
Sherri Tenpenny, DO
On October 14, the major media outlets shrieked a report of “the first outbreak of polio in the United States in 26 years,” occurring in an Amish community in central Minnesota. The specter of hundreds of children in braces and iron lung machines lining the halls of hospitals immediately danced through the air, and directly into the minds of parents who have chosen to not vaccinate their children.
More than a month later, phone calls and emails from concerned parents continue to pour in. The fears surrounding this “outbreak” need to be put to rest.
First of all, there wasn’t an “outbreak of polio.” There was only the discovery of an inactivated polio virus in the stool of four children. The first confirmation was in a 7-month old Amish infant, presumably hospitalized, with severe immune deficiency. The “find” prompted screening of other children in the community; four children were confirmed positive. None experienced any type of paralysis.
Part of the panic can be blamed on inaccurate reporting. The virus that was identified was not “wild polio.” It was a virus that is found only in the oral polio vaccine (OPV). Oral vaccine-strain viruses are inactivated with formaldehyde and are generally considered by the CDC “too weak” to cause disease. Even though the OPV is still used extensively in Third World countries, it has not been used in the United States since 2000. How did children in an isolated Amish community, with no exposure to foreigners, become exposed to vaccine-strain polio virus? That remains a mystery.
The unasked question is why was finding this strain front-page news? My suspicion is that it was because it was an Amish child; a large number of the Amish choose to not vaccinate their children. A confirmation would serve a dual purpose: to make an ”example” of the Amish and scare parents into believing polio still being ”in circulation,” when in fact, it is not.
A review of polio is important to alleviating the fears about the disease. Keep in mind that the last case of “wild type” polio virus in U.S was in 1979; the last case the Western Hemisphere was in the Peru, in 1991.
Polioviruses are transient inhabitants of the gastrointestinal tract. Up to 95% of all polio infections are completely asymptomatic. Approximately 5% of polio infections consist of a minor, nonspecific illness consisting of an upper respiratory tract infection (sore throat and fever) and gastrointestinal disturbances (nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea). This influenza-like illness, clinically indistinguishable from the myriad of other viral illnesses, is characterized by complete recovery in less than a week with resultant life time immunity.
Less than 1% of all polio infections result in paralysis. Most importantly, the vast majority of individuals who contract paralytic poliomyelitis recover with complete—or near complete—return of muscle function. Any weakness that is still present 12 months after onset of paralysis is usually considered permanent.
The take home message from the “Amish outbreak” is this:
Would you stop bathing your children or prohibit swimming and playing due to these small risks?
is the real risk of contracting polio? Certainly, it is zero from
this Amish “outbreak.” The entire vaccine industry is based on fear.
Learning the facts about polio will dissipate personal fears and so
will putting the risks in perspective.
© 2005 Sherri Tenpenny
- All Rights Reserved
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Sherri J. Tenpenny, D.O. is the President and Medical Director of OsteoMed II, a clinic located in the Cleveland area that provides conventional, alternative, and preventive medicine. OsteoMed II's staff of three osteopathic physicians, two acupuncturists and a 10-member support team focuses on four specialized areas: allergy elimination; treating acute and chronic pain problems; all areas of woman's health; and the treatment of vaccine injured children.
Dr. Tenpenny has lectured at Cleveland State University and Case Western Reserve Medical School on topics related to alternative health. Nationally, she is a regular guest on many different radio and television talk shows, including "Your Health" aired on the Family Network. She has published articles in magazines, newspapers and internet sites, including, Redflagsdaily.com, Mercola.com and Mothering.com. She has presented at the National Vaccine Information Center's annual meeting and at several international conferences on autism.
Dr. Tenpenny is respected as one of the country's most knowledgeable and outspoken physicians regarding the impact of vaccines on health. As a member of the prestigious National Speaker's Association, Dr. Tenpenny is an outspoken advocate for free choice in healthcare, including the right to refuse vaccination. As an internationally known speaker, she is highly sought after for her ability to present scientifically sound information regarding vaccination hazard and warnings that are rarely portrayed by conventional medicine. Most importantly, she offers hope through her unique treatments offered at OsteoMed II for those who have been vaccine-injured.
Dr. Tenpenny is a graduate of the University of Toledo in Toledo, Ohio. She received her medical training at Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, Missouri. Dr. Tenpenny is Board Certified in Emergency Medicine and Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine. Prior to her career in alternative medicine, Dr. Tenpenny served as Director of the Emergency Department at Blanchard Valley Regional Hospital Center in Findlay, Ohio, from 1987 to 1995. In 1994, she and a partner opened OsteoMed, a medical practice in Findlay limited to the specialty of osteopathic manipulative medicine. In 1996, Dr. Tenpenny moved to Strongsville, Ohio, and founded OsteoMed II, expanding her practice and her vision of combining the best of conventional and alternative medicine.
How did children in an isolated Amish community, with no exposure to foreigners, become exposed to vaccine-strain polio virus?