Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease. Children who are exposed to chickenpox develop red, itchy sores. They itch, and kids often lack the self-control needed to resist the scratching that can lead to infection and scarring. So why would parents go out of their way to expose their children to chickenpox?
That’s what one group in Boulder, Colorado is advocating. They are hosting “pox parties” to purposefully expose their kids .
The technique is based on the idea that children’s symptoms are milder than those experienced by adults. Most children contract the virus, develop the sores, but quickly recover. In the process, they develop an immunity to chickenpox and can’t catch it again.
Now, though, there is a vaccine. The varicella zoster vaccine was released in 1995. “The vaccine offered a far less arduous and less risky alternative: a dead or weakened form of the virus is injected into a child, stimulating antibodies to recognize the virus without making them sick,” Daily Mail writes.
There are still those, though, who do not trust vaccines. Rather than vaccinate, they’re exploiting the outbreak of chickenpox to naturally infect their kids.
“What’s more,” DM notes, “the group claim to be following advice from ‘a friend that works at the CDC’ and ‘the UK’s NHS’, despite the fact that both the CDC and the NHS advise against this approach.”
“I have been swamped with requests to have my daughter share chicken pox, and I can accommodate as many requests as possible,” one mother wrote on Facebook.
“We seem to have a pretty contagious wild virus here that started when my husband came down with the shingles around the middle of September.”
“It seems to be a [week] or so before you notice results.”
The group recommends that the kids play together, though this isn’t always enough to pass the virus. Another strategy is to put the kids together in an enclosed space to ensure that they are breathing the same air.
“Bonus for sharing snacks out of the same bowl,” one mother suggests. “Also, bring the host mom something by way of thx. A casserole or tp or something!”
There are complications that can develop from chickenpox. In some cases, pox lead to the more deadly pneumonia, encephalitis, and group A strep.
Dr Robert M Jacobson, a pediatrician and medical director for the Population Health Science Program at Mayo Clinic, is an expert in pediatric virology. He spoke with The Daily Mail about the resurgance of these parties. “Vaccines are the most tested thing that we as physicians prescribe, because they are being administered to millions of people so there is no room for error.”
“Vaccines are tested in tens of thousands of people, compared to, say antibiotics to prevent infection from a tattoo, which are tested in hundreds.”