SOME PARENTS act as if they've never heard the old admonition "Don't take candy from a stranger." They're giving their kids pre-licked lollipops, infected with chickenpox and mailed to them by strangers they met on the Internet. Yikes!
Before there was a chickenpox vaccine, prior to 1995, parents sent their kids to 'pox parties,' where moms would arrange play dates with infected children. Hopefully, the kids would catch varicella, the herpes virus that causes chicken pox, and develop immunity.
WANNA CHICKENPOX LOLLIPOP?
Now some parents are going to social media sites, like Facebook, and using the Internet to expose their kids to the disease. How? They pay other parents for lollipops infected with the chickenpox virus. For example, infected lollipops were recently advertised at $50, overnight delivery from Nashville, reports the New York Times.
Wow! At $50 a pop, I can see a kid sick with chicken pox, her hands in mittens so she won't scratch and leave terrible scars. She's in bed, next to a big box from which her Mom retrieves sucker-after-sucker, saying "Now lick this one, Honey."
SPIT & SUCKERS
I have PayPal and plenty of spit and suckers," read a message on Facebook last month."It works too because that's how we got it! Our round was FedEx'd from Arizona. We've spread cooties to Cookeville, Knoxville and Louisiana!"
The biggest reason for mail-order infected suckers is that there are far fewer kids with chickenpox today because we've had a vaccine for 16 years now and are close to completely eradicating chicken pox in this country.
Before 1995, between 10,000 and 11,000 people a year were hospitalized for chickenpox; while 100 to 150 people died from the virus every year. Deaths from chickenpox have diminished by 88% in all age groups and by 97% in young people 20 and under, according to a recent study, published in the journal Pediatrics by researchers from the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
But that's the rub -- the vaccine. It is parents who oppose vaccinating their children against diseases, fearing hazardous side effects, who have ordered the chicken pox lollipops.
ILLEGAL AND DANGEROUS
However, now the Facebook advertisements for the infected lollipops have been taken down because it is illegal and dangerous, warn public health experts and doctors.
It's a federal crime to send diseases, viruses or a contagion through the post office or any other mail transport, like FedEx, and carries a sentence from one year to 20 years. Remember anthrax?
It's unsafe because the lollipops could carry other more dangerous viruses, like hepatitis B, group A strep and staph germs.
As an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times, which described "Mom as bioterrorist," said: "When it comes to the intentional spread of chickenpox, lollipops aren't the only suckers."
by Sharon McEachern