BYO Swine Flu Parties, Bad Idea

A couple months ago, we were shuddering at the mention of the swine flu, now it seems the theme party du jour, albeit ill advised, is the swine flu party.

Moms are turning to the Internet, trying to decide if they should invite someone with swine flu over to the house to just get it over with.

The idea does have some precedent. Parents have held “chicken pox parties,” and invited over someone with chicken pot, with the idea that everyone who has not had it will become infected, the New York Times reports

Parents who don’t trust the vaccine believe that a full-blown case will give their children stronger immunity and avoid future serious complications.

Dr. Michael Simms, director of infectious diseases at Saint Mary's Hospital in Waterbury, told the Waterbury Republican-American that there is no such thing as immunity from the flu.

"Fortunately, up to now, it (swine flu) has been much milder than seasonal flu, but people are still dying from it and it has the propensity to kill the middle-aged group instead of the old or young. We are learning new things about it every week. Exposing children to a potentially lethal, infectious disease is not advised," he told the newspaper.

Simms also told the paper there is no point to chicken pox parties because there are effective vaccines.

Dr. Anne Moscona, a flu specialist at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, told the Times that swine flu parties are “totally nuts.”

“I can’t believe people are really thinking of doing it. I understand the thinking, but I just fear we don’t know enough about how this virus would react in every individual,” Moscona said. “This is like the Middle Ages, when people deliberately infected themselves with smallpox. It’s vigilante vaccination — you know, taking immunity into your own hands.”

The Centers for Disease Control also does not recommend "swine flu parties" to protect yourself against novel H1N1 flu in the future.

“While the disease seen in the current novel H1N1 flu outbreak has been mild for many people, it has been severe and even fatal for others. There is no way to predict with certainty what the outcome will be for an individual or, equally important, for others to whom the intentionally infected person may spread the virus,” the CDC posted on its “Swine Flu and You” page.

CDC recommends that people with novel H1N1 flu avoid contact with others as much as possible. They should stay home from work or school for 7 days after the onset of illness or until at least 24 hours after symptoms have resolved, whichever is longer.

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