more on the real story re smallpox
Sherri Tenpenny, DO
"We interrupt the current programming to bring you this important news update... there has been a reported case of smallpox in Washington, D.C... "
What will happen next?
The press has done its job over the last few months reinforcing the belief that an epidemic is about to occur, potentially causing millions of deaths. Americans thousands of miles from Washington will demand the smallpox vaccine, a vaccine with the highest risk of complications of any vaccine ever manufactured and with a dubious track record for success.
However, because you are informed, you will have a different response. You will not panic. You will turn off the TV. You won't listen to your hysterical neighbors. And more importantly, you won't rush to be vaccinated. Here's why:
On June 20, 2002, I attended the Center for Disease Control's (CDC) meeting of the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) and listened to one and a half days of testimony prior to posting the recommendations for smallpox vaccination that are currently being considered by the CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS.)
Various physicians and researchers associated with the CDC presented by public participants and many testimonies and comments. Noting that two weeks have past since the June 20th meeting and the media has still not reported on this historic event, I decided it was imperative to report the content and outcome of this meeting to the general public. After reading this report you will gain a new perspective on smallpox and, hopefully, in the event of an outbreak, you will understand that you have nothing to fear.
Generally Accepted Facts
Nearly every article or news headliner regarding smallpox is designed to instill and continually reinforce fear in the minds of the general public. Apparently the goal is to make everyone demand the vaccine as soon as it is available and/or in the event of an outbreak.
A very similar media campaign was developed prior to the release of the Salk polio vaccine in 1955. The polio vaccine had been in development for more than a year prior to its release and was an untested "investigational new drug," just as the smallpox vaccine will be.
The difference is that the potential side effects and complications of the smallpox vaccine are already known, and they are extensive.
Generally accepted facts about smallpox include:
1. Smallpox is highly contagious and could spread rapidly, killing millions
2. Smallpox can be spread by casual contact with an infected person
3. The death rate from smallpox is thought to be 30%
4. There is no treatment for smallpox
5. The smallpox vaccine will protect a person from getting the disease
As it turns out, these "accepted facts" are not the "real facts."
Myth 1: Smallpox Is Highly Contagious
"Smallpox has a slow transmission and is not highly contagious," stated Joel Kuritsky, MD, director of the National Immunization Program and Early Smallpox Response and Planning at the CDC.
This statement is a direct contradiction to nearly everything we have ever heard or read about smallpox. However, keep in mind that this comes "straight from the horse's mouth" and should be considered the "real story" regarding how smallpox is spread.
Even if a person is exposed to a known bioterrorist attack with smallpox, it doesn't mean that he will contract smallpox. The signs and symptoms of the disease will not occur immediately, and there is time to plan.
The infection has an incubation period of 3 to 17 days, and the first symptom will be the development of a high fever (>101º F), accompanied by nausea, vomiting, headache, severe abdominal cramping and low back pain. The person will be ill and most likely bed-ridden; not out mixing with the general public.
Even with a fever, it is critically important to realize that at this point the person is still not contagious. In fact, the fever may be caused by something else, such as the flu.
However, if a smallpox infection is developing, the characteristic rash will begin to develop within two to four days after the onset of the fever. The person becomes contagious and has the ability to spread the infection only after the development of the rash.
"The characteristic rash of variola major is difficult to misdiagnose," stated Walter A. Orenstein, M.D., Director of the National Immunization Program (NIP) at the CDC. The classic smallpox rash is a round, firm pustule that can spread and become confluent. The lesions are all in the same stage of development over the entire body and appear to be distributed more on the palms, soles and face than on the trunk or extremities.
In the event of an exposure, it is imperative that you do everything you can to improve the functioning of your immune system so that an "exposure" does not have to result in an "outbreak."
a. Stop eating all foods that contain refined white sugar products, since sugar inhibits the functioning of your white blood cells, your first line of defense.
(There are many other health-conscious dietary considerations to consider, but that is beyond the scope of this article.)
b. Start taking large doses of Vitamin C. Vitamin C has been proven in hundreds of studies to be effective in protecting the body from viral infections, including smallpox. For an extensive scientific review on the use of this nutrient and a "dosing recipe", read "Vitamin C, The Master Nutrient, by Sandra Goodman, Ph.D. http://www.positivehealth.com /permit/Articles/ Nutrition/vitcpre.htm
c. If you develop a fever, you still have time to plan. Purchase enough fresh, organic produce and filtered water to last three weeks. Move the kids to grandma's or the neighbor's house.
d. Remember: you may not get the infection and you are not contagious until you get the rash!
Myth 2: Smallpox Is Easily Spread By Casual Contact With An Infected Person
Smallpox will not rapidly disseminate throughout the community. Even after the development of the rash, the infection is slow to spread. "The infection is spread by droplet contamination and coughing or sneezing are not generally part of the infection.
Smallpox will not spread like wildfire," said Orenstein. He stated that the spread of smallpox to casual contacts is the "exception to the rule." Only 8% of cases in Africa were contracted by accidental contact.
Transmission of smallpox occurs only after intense contact, defined as "constant exposure of a person that is within 6-7 feet for a minimum of 6-7 days." Dr. Orenstein reported that in Africa, 92% of all cases came from close associations and in India, all cases came from prolonged personal contact.
Dr. Tom Mack from the University of Southern California stated that in Pakistan, 27% of cases demonstrated no transmission to close associates. Nearly 37% had a transmission of only one generation, meaning that the second person to contract smallpox did not pass it onto the third person. These statistics directly contradict models that predict an exponential spread to millions.
Even without medical care, isolation was the best way to stop the spread of smallpox in Third World, population dense areas. With a slow transmission rate and an informed public, Mack estimated that the total number of smallpox cases in America would be less than 10, a far cry from the millions postulated by the press.
Dr. Kuritsky said at the CDC Public Forum on Smallpox on June 8 in St. Louis, "Given the slow transmission rate and that people need to be in close contact for nearly a week to spread the infection, the scenario in which a terrorist could infect himself with smallpox and contaminate an entire city by walking through the streets touching people is purely fiction."
Point to ponder:
Mass vaccination was halted in Third World countries because it didn't work. In India, villages with an 88% vaccination rate still had outbreaks. After the World Health Organization began a surveillance and containment campaign, actively seeking cases of smallpox, isolating them in their homes, and vaccinating family members and close contacts, outbreaks were virtually eliminated within 2 years.
The CDC and the WHO organization attribute the eradication of smallpox to the ring vaccination of close contacts. However, since the infection runs its course in 3-6 weeks, perhaps ISOLATION ALONE would have effectively accomplished the same thing.
Myth #3: The Death Rate From Smallpox Is 30%
Nearly every newspaper and journal article quotes this statistic. However, as pointed out in the presentation by Dr. Tom Mack, it appears that the "30% fatality rate" has come from skewed data. Dr. Mack has worked with smallpox extensively and saw more than 120 outbreaks in Pakistan throughout the early 1970s.
Villages would apparently have "an importation" every 5-10 years, regardless of vaccination status, and the outbreak could always be predicated by living conditions and social arrangements. There were many small outbreaks and individual cases that never came to the attention of the local authorities.
Mack stated that even with poor medical care, the case fatality rate in adults was "much lower than is generally advertised" and thought to be 10-15%. He said that the statistics were "loaded with children that had a much higher fatality," making the average death rate reported to be much higher. Amazingly, he revealed his opinion that even without mass vaccination, "smallpox would have died out anyway. It just would have taken longer."
Even so, people died. Why? After all, smallpox is a skin disease and "other organs are seldom involved." I posed this question to the committee on two separate occasions.
Kathi Williams of the National Vaccine Information Center asked this question at the Institute of Medicine meeting on June 15th. On June 20, an answer was finally forthcoming when a member of the ACIP committee said, "That is a good question. Does anyone know the actual cause of death from smallpox?"
At that point, Dr. D.A. Henderson, from the John Hopkins University Department of Epidemiology volunteered a comment. Dr. Henderson directed the World Health Organization's global smallpox eradication campaign (1966-1977) and helped initiate WHO's global program of immunization in 1974. He approached the microphone and stated,
"Well, it appears that the cause of death of smallpox is a 'mystery.'"
He stated that a medical resident had been asked to do a complete review of the literature and "not much information" was found. It is postulated that the people died from a "generalized toxemia" and that those with the most severe forms of smallpox -- the hemorrhagic or confluent malignant types -- died of complications of skin sloughing, similar to a burn. However, he concluded by saying, "it's frustrating, because we don't really know."
Comment: I find this to be extremely frightening. If we knew why people died when they contracted smallpox, perhaps current medical technology could treat the complications, making the death rate much lower. Considering that the last known case of smallpox in the U.S. was in Texas in 1949, continuing to report that smallpox has a 30% death rate is similar to saying that all heart attacks are fatal. Based on 1949 technology, that would be accurate reporting. But in 2002, all heart attacks are NOT fatal. Neither would smallpox have a mortality rate of 30%.
Continued Next Issue
Will Three Unlicensed Smallpox Vaccines Be Used to Immunize 500,000 Americans?
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Smallpox Bioterrorism
Sanitation Vs. Vaccination - The Origin of Smallpox
US Will Be Retaining Smallpox Stocks
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