As far as rallying cries go, “Bring back our #ChildhoodDiseases” isn’t a top choice for most.
Yet it was for Darla Shine, the wife of former Fox News executive and current high-ranking Trump administration official Bill Shine, when she took to her Twitter soapbox on Wednesday morning.
Shine was prompted by a report on CNN about the recent measles outbreak in Washington and Oregon, which has infected more than 50 unvaccinated people. There are also over 200 reported measles cases in New York. The virus is “exquisitely” contagious, and clinics are scrambling to keep up with treatment and immunization efforts.
Shine, however, is waving the whole thing off.
“Here we go LOL #measlesoutbreak on #CNN #Fake #Hysteria,” she tweeted. “The entire Baby Boom population alive today had the #Measles as kids, Bring back our #ChildhoodDiseases they keep you healthy & fight cancer.”
Right now you're wondering if she's referring to the same measles you're thinking of, the measles that killed 110,000 people, mostly children, in 2017. Don’t worry, Shine is definitely sure about this one.
“I had the #Measles #Mumps #ChickenPox as a child and so did every kid I knew - Sadly my kids had #MMR [measles-mumps-rubella vaccine] so they will never have the lifelong natural immunity I have. Come breathe on me!”
To back up her breathtakingly dumb claim, Shine then tweeted about a Mayo Clinic study on the connection between the measles virus and cancer.
“Here is a study from Scientists at Mayo Clinic who were interviewed by CNN and they say they have clinical studies that #Measles Virus kills #Cancer,” she said. She linked an article about said cancer-killing measles.
Still, this seemed to be a sticking point with a lot of people on Twitter -- with their “That’s just not how science works” and their “You know vaccinations keep children from dying, right?” -- so Shine told them to put their money where their keyboards were and “go talk to the Mayo Clinic.”
So we did. A spokesperson (who preferred not to be quoted by name) confirmed that yes, that measles/cancer study exists… but everything else Shine said about it is wrong.
In 2014, the clinic treated two patients suffering from a deadly cancer called multiple myeloma with something called “virotherapy.”
A virus is kind of like a guided missile. It’s really good at hunting down specific targets and wreaking absolute mayhem. Knowing this, the researchers genetically engineered their own measles virus to sic on the patients’ cancer cells.
Now, to call these engineered cells “measles” would be irresponsible. The measles viruses involved were stripped of everything that makes measles harmful to human beings and pumped full of cancer-fighting drugs. They were just the vehicle for life-saving medicine.
Chemotherapy patients have such weakened immune systems that the turncoat virus could traipse right through their bodies and proceed to attack tumors. One of the patients reacted extremely well to the treatment and went into remission, and the result was a two-week media blitz about the miraculous possibilities of virotherapy.
Virotherapy is exciting stuff. But the outbreaks in Washington and Oregon are not virotherapy. They are modern-day explosions of a disease that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared “eliminated” in 2000 thanks to “a highly effective vaccination program in the United States.”
Shine’s sticking to her guns. If there’s any good advice to get out of her rant, it’s to make sure to talk to someone in the medical field before you commit to a bizarre new theory. As Shine herself said:
So many ignorant people on #Twitter— Darla Shine (@DarlaShine) February 13, 2019