11 February 2015

I was never invited to "chicken pox parties" - updated


"Chicken pox" (varicella) was in the news last month [November 2011] when offers for infected lollipops were posted on the internet:
Wendy Werkit, of Nashville, offered to send other parents a "fresh batch of pox" on lollipops or cotton-buds in return for $50 (£31) via PayPal...

Her advertisement was placed on a Facebook page intended to help parents find a "pox party" in their local area, where children can mix and pick up the virus, which can be more dangerous if suffered later.
Advice for the best way to send chickenpox emerged in a thread of postings on the site. "Tuck it inside a ziplock baggie then put it in the envelope," it said. "Don't put anything identifying it as pox." 
The photo above comes from a detailed article at Inhabitots, which discusses the pros and cons of naturally vs. vaccine-acquired immunity.
Not getting vaccinated against chicken pox can result in some serious health issues. For example, anyone who has gotten chicken pox naturally in their life (not been vaccinated) can later get shingles. While the chicken pox vaccine doesn’t guarantee immunity from shingles, it increases the odds you won’t get and if you do, it makes the disease less severe...
It's not a new topic; "Inside New York Chicken Pox Parties" was published in 2009.
More kids stopped by throughout the afternoon to play and rub elbows with the sick celebrants. The younger kids passed the time chasing each other, playing make-believe games about forest animals and gnomes and watching Snow White, while the older kids kept busy reading books, playing video games and practicing the guitar. " The 12-year-old son was joking about how, normally, his mother tells him to cover his mouth," Penelope says. "Now all of a sudden, his mom's trying to spread his germs. He was enjoying pointing out the hypocrisy of it all." On her way out several hours later, she had an idea. "I have a friend who couldn't find a pox party, so a mother in California overnighted her son's pajamas to her. Her kid slept in them and got chicken pox," Penelope says. "So I asked, 'Do you mind if I borrow some [dirty clothes]?' The mom gave me a pair of just-worn pajamas. My daughter slept in them that night and then I mailed them back." Alas, Dr. Gershon says this plan isn't likely to work: "Chicken pox does not spread by clothing. It requires being in direct contact with a person with active chicken pox or shingles." And, indeed, after all the trouble, Penelope's daughter remains pox-free, though she plans to try again.
Those of you with children may want to read more at one of the links.

Addendum:  Reposted from 2011 to incorporate this report of "measles parties."

She was approached recently by a friend who knew her kids were unvaccinated. The friend offered to help set up a play date with another child who was sick.

“She said, ‘I know someone who has the measles, would you like to be connected with them?’” Schiffman said.

Measles parties and chicken pox parties are practices that developed in eras before vaccines for those diseases were available... “People did this with chicken pox all the time,” said Art Reingold, an epidemiology professor at UC Berkeley who worked at the Centers for Disease Control in the 1980s. “Parents would have kids lick a lollipop and give it to other kids, or mail it to other kids.”

The chicken pox vaccine was licensed for use in 1995; for measles in 1963. Today, some parents are still deliberately getting their kids sick because they don’t believe in vaccines.

“The basic notion is ‘this is my opportunity for my kid to get immune the old fashioned way, the way God intended,’” Reingold said. “’The way nature intended.’”

34 comments:

  1. My sister and I were sent to a neighbour's house to play with their kids to acquire both chicken pox and, later, measles. I mentioned this a while ago to a group of parents considerably younger than myself (we had ours late!), and they looked at me like I was some sort of evil, child-abusing monster. Times change!

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  2. Surely it's against the law to send infectious disease by the US mail.

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  3. My parents had my brother and I sleep over the neighbors house just after their kids began to come down with chicken pox...
    joke was on them however as it turned out my father hadn't had chicken pox as a small child... ha ha dad served ya right.

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  4. I'd never heard of 'pox parties' until recently, though I knew of a few kids who were deliberately sent to play with other kids who had the chicken pox. This was before the vaccine was available and all the kids involved were under school age. The thought was that it was better to get it over with early than have them miss a week of school somewhere in the next few years. (And presumably they chose times that didn't wreak havoc with the parent's schedules, too.) When my youngest brother turned twelve he still hadn't had them. The vaccine had been available for a year or two at that point, so he got the shot.

    I can't imagine wanting to share measles, though. That stuff can be lethal. Seriously, the vaccine's been around for a long time and the only known side effect is that you don't die of measles.

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  5. Yes, it is against the law to intentionally spread a disease by mail. There was an item on the web a few days ago. It would be covered by the same federal laws as mailing anthrax.

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  6. But be careful with your thought processes, Sue. It sounds like you're trying to equate laws with common sense. :.)

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  7. @Sue & @Minnesotastan:
    Anyone who has experience dealing with the law knows that it has nothing to do with common sense or logic. It's a kludge of politics, knee-jerk emotional reactions and religious-derived 'morals'.

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  8. For more, see:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2011/11/pox_packages_child_abuse_and_the_violati.php

    Or better yet, go to the undisputed authority:

    http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/default.htm

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  9. what shocks me is that there is apparently no regard to the possibly un-vaccinated/unexposed mail carrier who risks developing it as an adult.

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  10. You can find more at the link:

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/pox-parties-taken-to-the-next-illegal-level/

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  11. Ugh.

    The vaccine seems so much better and far less miserable.

    When my brother was five, he got chickenpox- a smattering of spots on his back- but caught a severe,painful case of shingles at the same time. There was eye involvement and daily trips to the ophthalmologist for treatment.

    It was months of misery for a small boy and I mention all this because once in awhile complications can occur and who'd want to inflict those on a child via a lollipop?

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  12. ...and yet the CDC recieves infectious cultures via mail from all over the world.
    link - http://www.cdc.gov/chickenpox/lab-testing/collecting-specimens.html#handling-shipping

    I am sure big pharma's already working to squash any and all affordable solutions...

    To be fare, I am not ready to return to Ibn Fadlan's Account of the Rus' hygiene... but this apparantly worked for them. Heck, they could have been culturing a super-virus that would flatten other lands faster than their swords could.

    I often wonder if my avoidance of the flu shot every year gives me a better immune system or will leave me as a mining canary of nature's next cull.

    BTW, have you read, 'The Hot Zone'?

    -Jimbo

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  13. BTW- At least in the UK and possibly Oregon USA, your pic for this topic may be considered crime?
    IDK if medical topics get around the whole children's photo nonesense.

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  14. I like Penn & Tellers take.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhk7-5eBCrs

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    Replies
    1. This. Simple facts, no emotional overtones, and a plain, simple conclusion.

      Delete
  15. Why did the anti-vaxxer cross the road?

    She was trying to develop an immunity to multiple contusions and blunt force trauma.

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  16. Having had a child with complications due to getting the chicken pox naturally (not from a pox party), we now vaccinate for it.
    I had no idea that the Chicken pox could be so severe until I witnessed the suffering that my daughter went through. They were on her eyes, in her mouth, down her throat - absolutely horrible.

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  17. Ha, my much older brother got chicken pox while I was still nursing. I never had to go through either (illness or vaccine). :)

    And my best friend and my little sister both went through it. I was thoroughly exposed without my parents having to try.

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  18. I never had a confirmed case of chicken pox. I had a mild mystery rash on my trunk when I was three, but the doctor couldn't figure out what it was. I was grumpier about being stuck in the house than about the rash. My mother has some immunity factor for a reason I can't remember. When my sister got chicken pox (poor kid missed the end of kindergarten and start of day camp) everyone initially worried I'd get it. I was 11 and the doctor said I could have more serious problems with it because I wasn't a little kid...but I never got it. I was told that my mysterypox or my mother's immunity might be why, but that I couldn't count on it. I could still get it. If I ever have children they're getting every vaccine anyway. Vaccines cause autism the same way middle school causes puberty.

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    Replies
    1. not according to Italians, they have more brains then americans and Canadians by the looks of it

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  19. Since when is the only side effect to ANY vaccine simply not catching the virus? Ask your Dr to see the entire pamphlet included with the vaccines.

    And why did the anti vaxer cross the rd? Really!? A little juvenile don't you think?

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    Replies
    1. Found the anti-vaxer

      Delete
  20. Wow, the determined ignorance and tinfoil hat grade insanity of anti-vaxxers know no bounds. OK, here's a thing. As late as 1920 -- one out of every five children died before their first birthday, almost always from diseases we now vaccinate for. Of the remaining four children alive then, another one would die before turning five. Before vaccines, children died. A LOT of them. Vaccinate your kids or go live in the wilds somewhere so that your children do not KILL other children and immuno-compromised adults. And as for people so worried about their children's health that they let them lick lollipops infected by who knows what (or what poison some sicko might have coated them with) THAT'S just insane.

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    1. look up what non brainwashed Italian court decided on vaccines.

      its you who is paranoid of non fatal diseases, and the big pharma companies capitalize on american paranoya to make money off their poison

      Delete
    2. Anon, I did look it up. This from a Forbes article on the subject:

      The centerpiece of the “courts confirm” article is the 2012 finding of a local Italian court that a child was diagnosed with autism a year after receiving an MMR. The court, in linking the two things, relied very heavily on the retracted and fraudulent 1998 Wakefield MMR Lancet paper and the testimony of a single physician, hired by the plaintiff’s attorney (widely known for advising parents on how to avoid compulsory vaccinations). The physician, Massimo Montinari, it seems, has written a book on how vaccines cause autism and peddles an autism “cure” that he’s devised.

      Italian courts, provincial or otherwise, are not known for basing their rulings in science. They are, after all, part of the system that led to a manslaughter conviction of six scientists for not predicting the 2009 L’Aquila earthquake, disregarding completely the obvious fact that such predictions are not, in fact, scientifically possible. In a similar way, the Italian court that made the MMR-autism ruling–the centerpiece of this latest “courts confirm” tripe–ignored completely the science made available to it and focused almost solely on the retracted Wakefield paper and a physician with a COI in making its decision. A decision that is, by the way, under appeal.

      Delete
  21. I went through a pretty severe case of shingles this past year (age 59). I will be heading to the pharmacy to get a shingles vaccination the day I turn 60 (this Friday) when my insuror will pay for it.

    I have no comment on how miserable a 'simple' case of the measles might be, but the 'ancillary' effects make a shot of prevention more than worthwhile.

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  22. why get vaccinated against shingles if you had it and are now immune to it?

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  23. According to my Dr. it can re-occur and the vaccine may lessen the severity.

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    Replies
    1. They can. Mine flared back up a few times. Getting my vaccine in 9 years, as soon as insurance will pay. If the government still stands by then. Life is always an adventure.

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  24. This seems akin to a wood-chipper party. Have you heard of it? That's where everyone brings their kids over and throws them into a wood-chipper.

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  25. "As late as 1920 -- one out of every five children died before their first birthday, almost always from diseases we now vaccinate for."

    I'd like to see a citation for this assertion. My understanding is that most early childhood deaths (before the age of 5) were caused by intestinal illnesses that were caused by poor sanitary practices, and that the principal reason that these deaths have sharply declined in developed countries is the development of modern sewage systems. In other words, infrastructure, not vaccines.

    The flush toilet is one of the great human inventions.

    P.S. I'm all in favour of vaccines!

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    Replies
    1. you're forgetting about diphtheria and pertussin. This form the CDC website:

      In 1920, 469,924 measles cases were reported, and 7575 patients died; 147,991 diphtheria cases were reported, and 13,170 patients died. In 1922, 107,473 pertussis cases were reported, and 5099 patients died

      that's not broken down by age etc but I think diarrhea diseases were pretty well controlled by the roaring 20s.

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    2. I'm not saying vaccines aren't important -- they are. I'm just doubting the "one out of every five children died before their first birthday, almost always from diseases we now vaccinate for" statement, which I would like to see a provenance for.

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    3. The data you guys need to look up is "infant mortality" rates (defined as before age 1), as distinct from neonatal mortality and childhood mortality. And it's not clear whether Elagie was referring to worldwide or U.S. data for the before-1920 period - that will make a lot of difference.

      Delete

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