A long-lost Brady Bunch episode about the hijinks surrounding a family meningococcal meningitis outbreak has been uncovered by Hollywood archivists.
“We wanted to show what would happen if one of the kids came down ill with a childhood disease, and how that would hilariously impact their relationship with the family and the outside world,” recalls Mike Langensteire, one of the show’s writers. “We settled on meningitis because we heard the Gomer Pyle writers were working on a mumps episode.”
The popular sitcom, which ran from 1969 to 1974, centered on the extended family of an architect widower, his second wife, and the six children from their previous marriages. In the 1969 episode titled Sepsis Sisters, Marcia, the oldest of the wife’s three daughters, is upset that she might lose her legs before the big school dance. Hilarity naturally ensues when Marcia accidentally vomits blood on step-brother Greg’s diorama of an 17th century Virginia flax mill.
Bacterial meningitis is caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitis. The bacteria multiply in the bloodstream, damaging the walls of the blood vessels, which causes bleeding into the skin and organs.
Anti-vaccine activists immediately seized on the episode as a reason why vaccines are unnecessary.
“Meningococcal meningitis is a mild disease that, if allowed to run its course, confers lifelong immunity,” said Taylor Gordillini of the Maine Health Freedom Coalition. “It is a subject of madcap mirth, and I don’t think the show’s writers would make light of a serious disease.”