Chicken Pox Parties Are a Federal Crime

Blankets were infected with smallpox and given to the Nativve Americans to kill them. Don't do a similar horror to your children with a Pox Party.
Blankets were infected with smallpox and given to the Nativve Americans to kill them. Don't do a similar horror to your children with a Pox Party. | Source

Bad Memories and MRSA

Explorers and settlers giving the Native Americans blankets contaminated with Small Pox - that's what it brings to mind.

Chickenpox virus remains in the body and can lead to debilitating Shingles later.

It seems straight out of the Twilight Zone for me, this ritual celebration of taking young children to a house party where they will be purposely infected with a virus.There may be a child there with an active case of the viral disease or there may be a tray of infected lollipops. Other homes offer a carton of contaminated clothing, blankets, and rags the residents purchased online.

QUOTE from November 16, 2011:

"This month, law enforcement officials began clamping down. Jerry E. Martin, the United States attorney in Nashville, where the tainted lollipops were advertised at $50 for overnight delivery, issued a warning last week that sending infected items “through the flow of commerce” was a federal crime, punishable by up to 20 years in jail."-- ‘Pox Parties’ in the Age of Facebook By Anahad O'Connor at http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/16/pox-parties-in-the-age-of-facebook/

QUOTE from Decoded Science; November 20, 2011

Chickenpox isn’t always a simple illness where a child gets an itchy rash and is miserable for a few days. Chickenpox can result in infections such as MRSA which can lead to cellulitis and drug-resistance MRSA. Chickenpox can also result in respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia. These complications can result in hospitalization and sometimes death. This is why I tell parents it’s important to vaccinate your child and to avoid pox parties and those with chickenpox.” -- Gerald Sturgeon, MD, FAAP in article by Janelle Vaesa at http://www.decodedscience.com/chickenpox-lollipops-dangers-of-pox-parties-for-kids/5941

What hit me smack in the face about these new disease party traditions is a case of Chicken Pox I saw some years ago.

Warning Against Chicken Pox Parties

5 stars for Chicken Pox Parties: A Federal Crime

Beware Chickenpox Parties In Nashville, Tennessee

A markerNashville, Tennessee -
Nashville, TN, USA
[get directions]

Chickenpox resembles chick peas (garbanza beans) and usually affect the head and the trunk of the body.
Chickenpox resembles chick peas (garbanza beans) and usually affect the head and the trunk of the body.

Two Diseases At Once

The little girl with Chickenpox suffered a mild case of the viral disease, but in six week's time, contracted Chickenpox a second time and with Mumps on one side of the face. In another six weeks, the child had Mumps on the other side of the face. In this short time span, she'd had both diseases twice and had been very sick.

Her fever had risen high enough to elicit suspicions of brain damage when she had both diseases at once and she was not so far away from death. This young girl also experienced scarring from the pox that occurred with the Mumps simultaneously, but whether having both of these at once caused the heavier scarring is doubtful.

Attending a function in order to make a child possibly suffer in these ways seems primitive and foolhardy to me, not preventative. The Hippocratic Oath is, after all, "First, do no harm."

What other viral or bacterial infections might the children at the Chicken Pox Party transmit to your child if you bring her or him? Some can be quite deadly. However, one suburb here suffers 3-4 large outbreaks of Strep Throat every year in Grades K - 8, some children having the malady at least twice in 3 months. This is unacceptable, but what if one of the kids at the party your child attends has Strep or Staph? -- Your child picks up some bacterial infection that goes systemic and is life threatening? An extremely outlying possibility, one hopes.

Recurrence of the Disease

I avoided Chickenpox after repeated exposure to kids at school suffering it for years - most came back to school too soon or came to school with early pox, in my area. Finally, I caught the disease at age 13.

All the kids wondered how I had avoided it for so long. It itched and I had some fever, but didn't feel particularly sick. I also escaped scarring. How I'd have done in high school or later in life with this disease, I'll never know. But it was over for me and I never had it again.

However, I had 3-day Measles 7 times, from elementary school through adulthood; plus a case of 5th Disease that was a lot like 3-day Measles. Whooping Cough? - We had the vaccine, but I've had that disease twice, less severe the second time. Immunity can deteriorate.

In the end, exposing a child to Chickenpox at a Pox Party does not guarantee immunity. Neither does immunization, not 100%.

Shingles in a child.
Shingles in a child. | Source

Chickenpox, Herpes, Shingles

So many viruses are connected in some way and some can lead to worse conditions and diseases.

Chickenpox, once survived, can lead to Shingles in later life, which can be incapacitating and fatal.

I know a man that was bedridden with the condition for a full year. He'd had Chickenpox as a child. Some parents are searching online for people with Shingles, asking to expose their children to these Shingles sufferers, since the virus is a descendant - Chickenpox varicella zoster is herpes zoster in Shingles. This also does not always work and some children contract shingles instead (see photo, above right).

The decision on how to handle the threat of Chickenpox and its complications is up to parents of children and to individuals that have not suffered the disease. It seems difficult to choose among exposure, vaccination, and avoidance.

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Comments 53 comments

prairieprincess profile image

prairieprincess 4 years ago from Canada

Wow, this is quite a shock to me: that parents would actually have parties for this! Thanks for an informative hub.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

From looking around, I found it's an old tradition. I was stunned, myself.


DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 4 years ago from Iowa

And I thought there was a vaccine for it now, although I realize some people believe vaccines cause autism and other conditions.


Beani profile image

Beani 4 years ago

Thank you for answering my question. :) I think Its a good idea to get the chicken pox when your younger though. The odds are better with you than getting it as an adult.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

Or the child need never have it at all. Vaccination is an individual choice, certainly, and the autism-result topic is alive and worrisome. Chickenpox can be fatal in some adults, but having had chickenpox, children can grow up to suffer Shingles later in life and die from that or even MRSA. It's all bad. People just have to decide which they prefer as best for a child.

My choice would be to vaccinate, research, and one day eliminate the virus entirely. My choice is never to expose anyone to any infection, but that won't happen very very soon, but perhaps within a decade.


Hillbilly Zen profile image

Hillbilly Zen 4 years ago from Kentucky

Ohmygosh Ms. Patty, I can't believe parents actually inflict this on their children. Thank you for this eye-opening Hub - voted up and interesting.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

It looks like the tradition was popular many years ago, even 19th century, and I used to hear parents around my own elementary school talking about "Let's take our kids over to Sally's house and let them catch it from her now." Today, I'm shocked; but the lollipops and rags are the worst imo.

Thanks for posting, Hillbilly Zen!


uniquearticlesbuz profile image

uniquearticlesbuz 4 years ago from USA

Vote Up dear its very nice hub I appreciate your hub


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 4 years ago from California

Shingles when treated early with an anti-viral last a very short time. Anti-viral has only been available for about 5 years. Sickening subject. Good hub!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

I'll be glad when "childhood diseases" are eradicated. Thanks, Everyone!


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 4 years ago from Jamaica

Doesn't the exposure to these viruses break down the immune system making these people, especially the children more susceptible to other diseases? I am amazed that parents would expose their children to anything that could potentially cause them great harm.


Maren Morgan M-T profile image

Maren Morgan M-T 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

Count me among those who never heard of chickenpox parties. How about some cowpox while they're at it?


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

@Cardisia, What happens with chickenpox is that the virus never leaves the body after the patient is well.Therefore, it can later manifest as Shingles, which can be much worse.

@Mareen Morgan M-T - I'm still seeing images of infected blankets and natives.

How about Buffalo pox? - There's that too, plus some others.


FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 4 years ago

This is disgusting.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

That was my first and last reaction as well, FloraBreenRobison.


Veronica Bright profile image

Veronica Bright 4 years ago from Nebraska

Interesting. I had my children vaccinated against everything, but now regret it. Vaccines are far more dangerous than people believe. I would be interested to know what the ratio is between people who get shingles as opposed to those children who die or are otherwise harmed by vaccines.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

I would like to know that as well. Thanks for asking the question. Perhaps I can find some figures.


jenubouka 4 years ago

I was one of these "victims" of the chicken pox parties back in the day. I remember going over to my mom's friends house and playing with her daughter who was poxed and in a few day's time broke out with it.

30 years ago, it was common, but I do not think contaminating a lollypop is such a great idea.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

The idea of the infected rags and lollipops makes me gag!


KimHinshaw profile image

KimHinshaw 4 years ago

When I was 13, we were visiting some friends and their 12 year old son had chicken pox and so they had me, my 11 year old sister and their son all sleep together in the family room. My sister caught chicken pox but I didn't until 2 years later from kids at school. I don't particularly mind that they did this...there wasn't a vaccine back then anyway, and we probably would have caught it just being in the house with their son anyway. But the profiting off of infected blankets and lollipops is going too far. And how do you even know what they're really infected with? Are they coming from a lab in a controlled facility, or somebody's home or kitchen? Even if the idea of intentionally making your kids sick with a childhood disease wasn't so repulsive, what if some nut job spiked the lollipops with something? I wonder how

many parents who would order the poxi-pops wouldn't even go trick-or-treating in their own neighborhoods because they don't trust their neighbors to give out safe candy?


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

It's all pretty scary. No laboratory is involved, just people making the pops. I am happy it was made a federal crime to buy them.


francismalz profile image

francismalz 4 years ago from Manila, Philippines

Oh my. Intentionally exposing your child to a disease is unethical. Why would someone want to be sick?


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 4 years ago from California

Was speaking about this on the train,a policeman interrupted to say, "Distributing infectious blankets and lollipops is considered terrorist activity and are felony offensives".


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

YES! - Thank you for that, tirelesstraveler. Francismalz and I agree.


capricornrising profile image

capricornrising 4 years ago from Wilmington, NC

Wow. I'm dumbfounded at the idea that these "parties" really exist!


Moon Daisy profile image

Moon Daisy 4 years ago from London

Great hub. When my daughter had chicken pox, an older lady I know asked me whether I thought her friends' parents were going to all want to come over with their kids, to "get it out the way". I was horrified at the idea. This lady told me it's what they used to do when her kids were young.

I can't believe anybody would want to intentionally make their children ill. One infection can always lead to another, there is always a risk involved.

Thanks for this very informative and well put together hub.


mariaholmes1 profile image

mariaholmes1 4 years ago

I will never forget when my fully immunized 13 year old son contracted whopping cough. So scary! Two ambulance trips to the hospital, numerous nebulizer treatments and 3 days passed before a resident doctor suggested testing for pertussis (whopping cough). Sure enough! They do not call it the 100day cough for nothing!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

I know what you mean, mariaholmes! - My immunization wore off and I contracted whooping cough twice. The first but was indeed 100 days! The second bout a couple years later lasted 60 days and the docs said I should not have been able to catch it a second time; but that is not the case. It wore me out.

Immunizations don't always work. Some people get chicken pox more than once. I had 3-day measles 7 times until I had full immunity.


Moon Daisy profile image

Moon Daisy 4 years ago from London

I had German measles 3 times, even though doctors said it should have been impossible. And I've heard of children who have got chicken pox a second time, after a first, very mild case. Sometimes it does indeed take a few episodes before you get immunity!


epatera profile image

epatera 4 years ago from Nebraska

I believe in vaccines in most cases, but the chicken pox vaccine worries me. My 14 year was vaccinated as a baby and we were told that was all she would need. Now they are saying two vaccines are needed to prevent this disease. My worry is when she is in her 20s they will determine the vaccine wears off. At that point, chicken pox is much more dangerous. Sometimes I think we are protecting our kids from too much.


Sylvia's Thoughts profile image

Sylvia's Thoughts 4 years ago from Southern California

Seriously, what is wrong with people??? You know they're moving to make immunizations mandatory. Especially when they are in the experimental stage. Human guinea pigs.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

Mandatory. Many people won't like that. For instance, those allergic to the flu shots. We'll have to carry "papers" as in Nazi Germany.


TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

TIMETRAVELER2 4 years ago

This is terrible. It's something new to me, that's for sure. Makes me wonder about the Botox parties people have. I have never been able to figure out why people would want to purposely inject poison into their systems...but that's just me, the lady with the wrinkles!! Nice hub!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

I did not know about Botox parties, but they sound dangerous to me. Maybe not, but my relative never wrinkled much so I don't worry.


Healthy Pursuits profile image

Healthy Pursuits 4 years ago from Oregon

This hub reminded me of my childhood. I'm 62. Nobody that I know of deliberately exposed their children to these diseases, but they never seemed too worried when the children were exposed. They also didn't isolate a child until there were symptoms. It was considered the first time that the exposure was definitely known to have caused the child to be sick. They obviously didn't think of a child as being contagious before symptoms appeared. Even today, I'm sure parents rarely isolate a child who's been exposed until the symptoms appear. That's a dangerous custom and a serious gap in our understanding of communicable diseases.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

Yes, there a many issues we need to solve, including the effectiveness of the immunizations. I did not like waiting for the scabs to disappear before returning to school and I lost 2 weeks. I don't know if the long wait is needed, either. But the purposeful exposure seems ghastly.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

As the new school year draws near, some Facebook pages and blogs are advocating Pox Parties for young children, even though these parties have been deemed illegal federal offenses and the practices involved very dangerous to children - even deadly. Please help speak out against Pox Parties and purchasing related infected materials for children to consume. You may save a life.


SilverGenes 3 years ago

I'm old enough to remember the exposure technique, too. It was seen as a good idea to expose kids to chicken pox by having them play together (not hidden in lollipops and fabric - that's just scary!). Considering there was no vaccine back then, it was probably a good idea. Vaccines are a whole other problem though. Whooping cough vaccines can cause real damage to babies and our pediatrician separated the dosage and started with half. Good thing. Our daughter had a very bad reaction to it. One the other hand, polio vaccines have saved countless lives. As for cow pox, milkmaids often got it but were then immune to smallpox. We still have a lot to learn in medicine and disease prevention but we've come a long way in my lifetime.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

We have come a long way, as you say, SilverGenes, and still have a long way to go. The numbers of vaccines recommended for children today is overwhelming to me, and they don't always work.

Who can tell what diseases were really in those lollipops that were sold on eBay and craigslist? Bad idea, I think. Thanks for your comments.


mary615 profile image

mary615 3 years ago from Florida

I have never heard of anything so ridiculous! I vaccinated one of my children against chicken pox, and she got it anyway. It was a mild case, but nevertheless she got it. I've had so many friends with Shingles, and it is so painful. Hope I never get it, but I've had chicken pox.

Great Hub. Voted UP and shared.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

Hi Mary615 - A friend of mine just suffered shingles for two months and is still having some pain from it. It is horrible. The pox parties are just way too dangerous.Thanks for sharing your thoughts as well.


Crystal Tatum profile image

Crystal Tatum 3 years ago from Georgia

I just covered a visit by our state's first lady to a local hospital where she talked about how purposely exposing children to chicken pox was once thought to be a good idea but is not anymore because they lead to shingles. So I was interested to see this hub. I can't see forcing sickness on a child.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

Hi, Crystal Tatum -

My doctor told me about kids contracting shingles from exposure to chicken pox, bypassing the chicken pox. I had not known that before. Purposeful exposure is a frightening proposition for childrens' health. I apreciate hearing about your First Lady speaking and about you covering the visit. Thanks for sharing that Important information.


wildove5 profile image

wildove5 3 years ago from Cumberland, R.I.

When I was a kid there wasn't a vaccination for chicken pox, most of us caught it from a classmate or friend, and everyone I knew survived it. Yes, some had it worse than others but most faired well. That being said, when the pox vaccination first came out my daughter was about 4, our Pediatrician offered the vaccination which I declined. It was new and not a lot was known about it's effectiveness or length of immunity. My feeling was I'd rather she contract it at a young age than to be 14 or 15 when the vaccination became ineffective and then contracted the illness. At the time it was well known that the older you were when exposed to chicken pox, the illness was usually worse. She did get chicken pox, never scarred. We were lucky I guess and someday she may shingles as I did back in 2001. But I hear they have a vaccination for that too. I certainly don't agree though with purposely exposing your child to any childhood illness. But I do believe the choice to vaccinate or not should be left to the well educated adult. As for the shingles, it was horrible! I would not wish it on anyone, especially a child! I suffered for 5 months with it because I thought the rash was poison ivy and the pain was from a herniated disc in my neck. Two weeks after the rash started I was diagnosed with shingles. I was only thirty-six at the time and given my age and that the lesions were not in a traditional shingles location, ( mine followed the nerve path from my neck down through my left arm,) it was not easily diagnosed. Otherwise I would not have been uncomfortable for so long had I started on the medications sooner. But, I made it through! Thanks for this very important and informative hub, good luck to you all and may you remain Shingle free for life!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

Wildove5 - I am sorry you had so much pain with shingles. Some have told me it is the worst pain they have ever experienced. The shingles vaccine needs to be less expensive, too - It's $250 here.

We never figured out how I contracted chicken pox in 8th grade, but I remember being itchy - but not as itchy as my allergic reactions to codeine and morphine. My chicken pox was the only case in the school that year and all the rest of the kids had it in early elementary school. Of course, I was busy catching 3-day measles many times back in the early grades - I did not become immune to that disease for decades!


Lastheart profile image

Lastheart 3 years ago from Borikén the great land of the valiant and noble Lord

Thank God my kids are adults. It is so sad to have an ill child. When we are adults it is worse, for many reasons of course. I will share this information. Thanks for searching and passing it.


wildove5 profile image

wildove5 3 years ago from Cumberland, R.I.

Yes, the pain was excruciating! I was in labor with my daughter for twenty-three hours and I can honestly say, I'd do it again before I'd get shingles. The rash itself didn't hurt at all, but the pain in my arm, that was awful, if my doctor had recommended removing my arm was the only way to stop the pain, I would have let him take it off. I remember standing in the shower cradling my arm and just crying. For five months I was out of work and hairdressing school, I couldn't hold a comb in my hand. The drugs were fun though, that is if you enjoy walking into walls and sleeping a whole lot, they had me on several, Vicodin, celebrex, and neurontin. But they helped, a lot. They say you can get phantom pains for years and can get it again, so I am mindful and diligent about stress and exposure always. If there is ever a next time, atleast I will know what the symptoms are and refrain from applying Caladryl lotion to a shingles lesion! lol I'm sure having the measles several times was no fun either!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

Lastheart - Childhood diseases are a sure headache for parents and these pox partie practies make it all the worse. Thanks for sharing the information with others.

wildove5 - A friend describes the same kind of shingles pain recently you describe, only in her neck and shoulder. I feel very bad for you both. She thought she'd lifted some things incorrectly in her volunteer work and when the rash came, she thought it was from a cat scratch, until she could barely move with the pain. I hope neither of you have this disease again.

3-Day Measles was annoying to me more than painful, with slight fever, rash and itch about every year - and once without the rash being visible. That was 5 or 6 times including adulthood, then there were Fifth Disease and Sixth Disease, both of which look like measles to me. The 2-week measles made me very sick, though; glad that happened only once.


Kathryn Stratford profile image

Kathryn Stratford 3 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

I didn't know these parties existed. That is pretty sick. I would never expose kids to that, especially since it doesn't guarantee immunity from it.

Thanks for sharing this with us, and have a wonderful day.

~ Kathryn


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

Thank you, Kathryn! I hope we can cut down on these parties. Poerhaps I'll contact some schools.


Kathryn Stratford profile image

Kathryn Stratford 3 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

That would be a good idea!


wildove5 profile image

wildove5 3 years ago from Cumberland, R.I.

I also had the fifth disease as well. When my daughter was in elementary school it was going around, I had never heard of it until then. Neither did my own Doctor. The shingles was by far the most annoying and painful!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

The word "shingles" makes me shudder now.

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