Parents are spending $50 to buy what they think are chickenpox-infected lollipops, in the hopes on giving their children the virus. Some parents are holding chicken pox parties, fueled by a Tennessee woman’s chickenpox-infected lollipops and social media sites like Facebook, not realizing that it may not be chicken pox being transmitted, but other diseases, like hepatitis and encephalitis.
“Some people are under the mistaken idea that by doing this they will expose their children to chicken pox virus, thus bypassing the need for the formal vaccine,” reports Medical News Today. “The parents, virtually all of them lay people, believe that this method is more effective and safer than receiving a vaccination. There have been other similar parties in the past for such diseases as measles. If a child has the disease earlier in life, there is a smaller risk of complications, compared to adults who get the diseases. This is true for hepatitis A, mumps and chicken pox, and some other diseases.”
The problem with ‘inoculation parties’ organized by lay people without any public health authority cooperation or supervision is quality control (e.g. accidental risks from shipping), lack of efficacy statistics, and the likelihood of unexpected infections. Pediatricians say children exposed to such practices have a higher risk of developing encephalitis and group A strep.
Most health care professional see this as utter lunacy. Other scientists say it is simply a scam for making money and taking advantage of gullible people.
One of the Facebook pages called “Find A Pox Party In Your Area” was found to be a place where parents can purchase viruses. By making a ‘charitable donation’ they can buy contaminated saliva, often carried on sweets or other goodies children like, or washcloths and Q-tips. On that web page you can also trade and sell such stuff.
The webpage apparently even gives tips on how to ship contaminated sweets across state lines without being found out. It openly warns that it is a federal offense to send these items by mail.
Dr. Anne Moscona, a flu specialist at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, was interviewed by the NY Times regarding swine flu parties, and said:
“I think it’s totally nuts. I can’t believe people are really thinking of doing it. I understand the thinking, but I just fear we don’t know enough about how this virus would react in every individual. This is like the Middle Ages, when people deliberately infected themselves with smallpox. It’s vigilante vaccination – you know, taking immunity into your own hands.”
One Huffington Post blogger writes that her own doctor advocates chicken pox parties — though I assume not this type.
What we have here is another group of anti-science people who believe the religious right’s false claims, like Michele Bachmann’s anti-Gardasil campaign-ending claptrap, or hate groups who advocate against vaccinating boys with the HPV vaccine because they falsely claim it protects against “those forms of cancer [which] are largely acquired through homosexual sex.” So, if your kid turns out to be gay, the logical conclusion must be that you’re OK if they get cancer?
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