Give your child chicken pox on a stickPublished 1:17am Friday, November 11, 2011
Nothing says love like a chicken pox lolliop.
At least that is what a few parents think when it comes to making sure that their children are immune from the virus.
When I heard on a radio news report that parents were buying candy previously licked by other children infected with chicken pox, I almost had to stop on the side of the road to wonder how insane some people truly are.
I am proud to say I got my chicken pox the old fashioned way — from my brother. A vaccine for the virus did not exist in the 80s, so the itchy red rash that sent you home from school for a few days was inevitable for most children. My case was very mild, a few pox here and there. A few of my classmates, on the other hand, had to deal with the blisters inside their noses and mouths. Some cases were so bad that the pox left permanent scars on the face.
In those days, an average of 10,600 hospitalizations and 150 deaths occurred annually in the United States caused by the chicken pox virus. The majority of the deaths were in adults.
Of course that is why the vaccine was introduced in 1995. In 2003 and 2004 the Centers for Disease Control reported eight deaths from the virus and a substantial decline of hospitalizations in the United States due to the vaccination.
As chicken pox fatalities fell, worries over vaccinations and their connection to autism and other disorders rose sharply. Parents fearful of vaccinations have recently turned to the Internet to find ways to make their children sick naturally. It used to be that these parents arranged “pox parties” to help their children contract the disease from other children so that they will be immune for life.
Now social media is getting in the act.
Facebook may be a great way to share many things. Now you can share contaminated spit, washcloths sucked on by infected children and saliva-dipped candy.
Go to the Facebook page promoting ”Find a Pox Party Near You” and you will find Wendy Werkit who, according to a Nashville television station, is selling chicken pox-laced lollipops for $50 a piece. Some parents are gobbling them up.
Despite the fact that knowingly shipping a disease or virus in the mail is a federal offense, you have to wonder what parents are thinking when they order spit online.
If they are so worried about even the slightest risks that a vaccine poses to their child’s health, then why are they not worried about other things that could be lurking in a lollipop coated with a stranger’s saliva? What about hepatitis and other pathogens?
One doctor on the radio broadcast I was listening to questioned whether the virus could survive the time it takes to mail a piece of infected candy, but bacteria can not only survive, but grow in such an environment. Instead of giving their children chicken-pox they might be giving them some other serious infection,
As a parent who recoils at watching my son pick up a piece of gum of the sidewalk and put it in his mouth, just thinking about giving him another child’s spit, well, makes me sick.
What’s love got to do with it? Not much for this parent.
Ben Hillyer is the design editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3540 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.