Measles parties have become the new chicken pox parties among a group of anti-vaccination parents in California, who are looking to purposely get their kids infected with the dangerous and ultimately preventable disease.
News outlets in the Bay Area are reporting about the disturbing trend of parents bring their unvaccinated children to parties, where one of them has already been infected with measles, a disease once almost entirely eradicated in the United States but in recent months has raged back.
The Chicago Sun Times has reported about the measles parties as well, noting that the trend is worrying doctors there. The U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention note that measles can be very serious especially for children under the age of 5, and can lead to brain swelling or even death.
A recent outbreak of the measles linked to Disneyland is blamed on parents who have not vaccinated their children, and the parties to spread the disease even further are being met with anger among California residents.
“I don’t think there is a point to put them in danger to get the sickness,” Katey Keller told Fox 40 in Sacramento.
“If they happened to be at a party and they get it, that is different. Or go school and get it, that’s different. But I wouldn’t be like, ‘Come on over! Let’s all have the disease and get it over with!’ Not worth it.”
Experts say the measles parties are a misguided attempt to re-create the chicken pox parties some parents once held in order to get their kids infected and get it over with. But unlike chicken pox, measles can be deadly.
“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 basic notion is ‘this is my opportunity for my kid to get immune the old fashioned way, the way God intended,’ ” Reingold added. “‘The way nature intended.'”
The California Department of Public Health is now taking action against the so-called measles parties, with deputy director Dr. Gil Chavez releasing this statement.
“The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) does not have any information to share about the background or frequency of pox parties. But CDPH strongly recommends against the intentional exposure of children to measles, as it unnecessarily places the exposed children at potentially grave risk and could contribute to further spread of the outbreak. Measles is a serious illness that can have significant consequences. Thirty percent of people with measles in the current California outbreak have been hospitalized.”
But despite the warnings, some anti-vaccination parents are still holding the measles parties and trying to infect their kids with the disease.
[Image via NBC Los Angeles]