Parents Strongly Encouraged to Stop Chicken Pox Parties

November 12, 2012

Parents Strongly Encouraged to Stop Chicken Pox Parties

Doctors and lawyers are urging parents not to participate in the current trend of ‘chicken pox parties.’ At these gatherings, parents purchase lollipops, cotton swabs or other sweets licked by a child diagnosed with chicken pox or other childhood diseases. Lawyers point out that this practice is illegal. Doctors point out that children may die from eating these contaminated sweets or licking a contaminated cotton swab.

Lawyers and doctors also warn against using websites or Facebook pages to purchase contaminated items. A hard sweet licked by sick child may contain hepatitis, encephalitis, Step A or other potentially deadly diseases. There is also no guarantee that the item purchased has actually been licked by a child with chicken pox.

Trouble in Tennessee

In 2011, a Tennessee woman was prosecuted by the US government for selling supposedly licked lollipops for $50 each. She claimed that all of the lollipops were licked by her children, all diagnosed with the pox. She also claimed that just by eating a lollipop, a child would be effectively immunized against chicken pox.

Her customers were all lower-income, poorly educated parents that were completely unaware of how vaccines work in the body. Licking a contaminated lollipop is an ineffective way of inoculating the body from certain diseases. Her customers were scared of sensational reports in the popular press and television news about possible complications with childhood vaccinations. The woman faces a lengthy trial and could spend up to 20 years in prison.

How Vaccines Work

Bodies cannot instinctively know how to recognize and fight diseases such as the chicken pox. That’s why people need to be vaccinated. Vaccines enter the nose via a nasal spray or are injected directly into the bloodstream. Vaccines contain a modified live or ‘killed’ version of the particular virus that causes the disease in order to teach the body’s immune system to recognize and destroy it. These live or killed viruses are not strong enough to actually give a person the disease.

Licking a contaminated lollipop will not vaccinate anyone against any type of disease. Even if disease-causing bacteria survived exposure to the air and time on the lollipop to still be active when the rest of the sweet is consumed, it still has to go through the body’s digestive system. This is usually enough to destroy it. But if the virus is strong enough, it can give the full-blown disease to a child. Since a child has an immature immunity system, it is unable to fight off the disease.

Smallpox Parties

Before there smallpox vaccine became widely available in the 1800s, people held ‘smallpox parties’ so they could be exposed to people with smallpox. This is thought to have worked for some people, but the results were dicey. Despite the similarity in names, small pox is not the same as chicken pox and need different vaccines.

The vaccine for chicken pox became widely available in 1995. Before 1995, many children died from the virus. Although the incidence of trading or purchasing contaminated sweets or other items dropped considerably, the practice resurged through the use of Internet social networking sites such as Facebook.

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