Spreading disease through social media


How Facebook is bringing back the long forgotten trend of “chicken pox parties”

I remembered when I had chicken pox as a child. I had some itchy annoying blister over most of my body and I missed a few days of school, but that was the end of it. However, because of my young age, I had no idea that such a thing as “chicken pox parties” even existed back in the early 1980s. They eventually stopped when the Varicella vaccine was introduced back in 1995. But now, with so many parents being against vaccination in general, they are making a comeback and people who organise such events are contacting potential participants through social media like Facebook.

Viral get together:
It all started when someone mentioned on Facebook that they had chicken pox infected lollipops to ship through FedEx to anyone who was willing to pay 50$ to get their hands on them. The message quickly became viral and spread amongst parents who were even willing to pay for other items like towels, to be sent out to them through the mail. The post is no longer on Facebook, but some items might have been shipped out already, there’s no evidence telling otherwise. Health officials don’t understand why parents would even consider doing such a thing. They are not even sure that the virus would survive the trip in the first place. On the other hand, bacteria and God knows what else, could, and anyone handling the infected packages could become sick.

Facebook groups like “Chicken Pox Party Line” are getting more and more popular on the social media network. And some of the parties aren’t limited to just chicken pox either. Other diseases like the measles, the mumps or rubella, are in some parents’ radar as well. The parents who are members of such groups claim that they are willing to take the risks of having their children develop a natural immunity to the virus instead of forcing them to receive the proper vaccination against it. Since its introduction in 1995, the Varicella vaccine (aka the chicken pox vaccine), has proven very effective and no serious side effects were reported after a child was vaccinated. The vaccine helped lower reported chicken pox cases from 9000 to 4000 when it was first introduced and amongst these cases, 100 proved to be fatal.

Putting healthy people at risk:
While it is understandable that some parents are afraid of seeing their child reacting badly to a vaccine, it’s hard to picture why on Earth they would willingly expose their perfectly healthy children to a highly infectious disease like chicken pox. Another problem with those parties is that they put other people at risk. Adults, teenagers and kids who are too young to get vaccinated are more at risk of contracting the virus. The same can be told for people whose immune system has been weakened by chemotherapy. Chicken pox is harder to cure during your adult life and the side effects range anywhere from mild to serious to deadly.

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