POLIO "NON-OUTBREAK" AMONG THE AMISH
by Dr. Sherri Tenpenny,
December 2, 2005
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
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:
1. Polio is not a synonym for paralysis.
2. The presence of vaccine-strain polio identified in the stool of 4
asymptomatic children is not a "polio outbreak."
3. There have been no wild polio viruses identified in the Western
hemisphere since 1991.
4. The WHO certified the Western hemisphere "polio free" in 1994.
For parents who choose not to vaccinate, assessing the risk of contracting
polio, based on the facts of this so-called outbreak and the truth about
the disease, needs to be put in perspective. Here are some things to think
* In 1997 alone, 112 children died from falls.
* In 1999, in Georgia alone, 53 children died in drowning accidents; 4
drowned at home in a bathtub.
Would you stop bathing your children or prohibit swimming and playing due
to these small risks?
What 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.
1. To read this for yourself: CDC: The Pink Book, pub. 2005, Chapter 8,
2. 1999 Report on child welfare and safety.
© 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.