Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Shingles, Chickenpox, TV Commercials, and the Duggars

Twelve Duggar children came down with chickenpox at essentially the same time.

My friend Becca posted something about the shingles vaccine commercials. The actors on the commercials often discuss their surprise at learning that the virus causing shingles enters the body when a person contracts chickenpox.. Exactly how did these people on the commercials, or their script writers, think that shingles were contracted before they learned of the condition coming from the varicella zoster -- sometimes called herpes zoster? Did they think that shingles was a gift left by the shingles fairy? Did they think it was a side effect incurred from a diet too rich in  flaming hot Cheetos? Did they think that shingles were transmitted from one organism to another via fleas? I didn't really consider the cause of shingles to be an especially  closely guarded secret, but perhaps I was wrong.

After Becca and I had the discussion about the numbskulls (or the numbskull-portraying actors) in the shingles vaccine commercials, I caught an episode of Nineteen and Counting in which twelve Duggar offspring had contracted chickenpox. JimBob Duggar,  patriarch of the cumbersome clan,  was touting the outbreak of chickenpox among his progeny to be a highly fortuitous event because being afflicted with chickenpox meant, according to the wisdom of JimBob, that none of his offspring who had contracted chickenpox would ever risk coming down with shingles.

My take on herpes zoster or varicella zoster is essentially the opposite of what JimBob Duggar was explaining to his television viewers. To the best of my knowledge, the virus causing shingles has only one direct route into the human  body, which is through the contraction of chicken pox. Exactly how Mr. Duggar took in this information and then reached the polar-opposite conclusion -- that a person, upon developing chicken pox, would be as a result safe from the possibility of developing shingles --  is an illustration of the phenomenon of a little knowledge being a very dangerous thing.


  1. How embarrassing for JimBoob. I had chicken pox when I was a toddler living in England. Over two decades later, I had shingles after recovering from facial cellulitis. My shingles wasn't bad, but it was bad enough that I don't want to get it again.

    1. Shingles are usually a one-time event, but then, so are chickenpox, and people have been known to get those more than once as well. I hope you're finished with both.

  2. Mr. Duggar didn't seem embarrassed, though he probably should have been. He has a fairly strong macho male "I'm always right" vibe going.

  3. This is the reason why, politically, I'm becoming more liberal. I just can't get over the blatant ignorance and perpetuating of false, seemingly made up, information. Not that ignorance is strictly a political condition, but I digress.