Feds warn 'pox party' zealots not to send viruses in post
Poxy spit safer than 'live' vaccine say refuseniks
Health officials in Tennessee have warned parents that giving their children chickenpox-infected lollipops ordered over the internet is not a legitimate substitute for the state's mandatory immunisation programme for the scratch-inducing infection.
The warning from Jerry Martin, US attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee, came after local TV stations ran investigations into a proliferation of Facebook groups that allow parents with an objection to immunisation to take the clearly more natural route of sharing lollipops and other spit-covered items.
It seems there are always parents sceptical of "unnatural" immunisation programmes, particularly those mandated by state of Federal government.
Hence, said the TV stations, the traffic to a Facebook group called "Find a Pox party in your Area", where parents sought to match up their uninfected kids with crispy infected individuals to ensure a more natural infection scenario.
However, it seems, where scheduling conflicts arose, making parties impossible, members were selling and soliciting the body fluids of infected children to facilitate remote transmission. One individual apparently offered a selection of pox-infested items including "suckers, spit and Q-tips" for a mere $50. Which is probably less than the cost of hosting a pox party yourself.
However, another Facebook page, Find a Pox Party Near You, declaimed sending viruses through the mail, but also reeled off a long list of reasons not have the vaccination. These include potential allergies, religious constraints, and that "[t]he chicken pox vaccination is a live-virus vaccine, which can be dangerous". As opposed to the dead version of the virus that you will pickup at a Pox Party.
Other parents have, apparently, solicited measles-infected items – the MMR scare still managing to rattle parents over a decade on.
Martin posed the question: "Can you imagine getting a package in the mail from this complete stranger that you know from Facebook because you joined a group, and say here, drink this purported spit from some other kid?"
More to the point, he reminded needle-phobic parents that sending viruses through the mail is against the law, and could result in a federal prosecution.
We can only be thankful that there is, as yet, no Find a Smallpox Party Near You page. ®