- Kids Health
Chicken Pox Parties Are a Federal Crime
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
Beware Chickenpox Parties In Nashville, Tennessee
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%.
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.
More On Pox and Related Diseases
- Varieties of Herpes Viruses, Chicken Pox and Chick Peas - Linguistics and Culture In Medicine
Chicken pox, the disease, is actually named after a food, with a mutation of old words.