A group of Boulder, Colorado, parents are sharing with each other the very best way to assure their children contract chickenpox.
In case you're wondering, "tenting" is best.
Thought chickenpox parties were old-fashioned ways that parents exposed children to chickenpox to build up their immunity to the disease? That is, practiced only before 1995 when the blessed varicella zoster vaccine was introduced? Nope. NBC news affiliate 9News.com reports that chickenpox play dates are alive and well.
The planning of a chickenpox party
The TV station reported it was sent screenshots from a private Facebook group that showed the preferred method of a chickenpox party.
The poster says for the most effective chickenpox party:
- Make a comfy tent fort of blankets and enclose the children inside.
- Allow the children to breathe each other's exhaled breath for 30 minutes.
- Add glow sticks, Legos and flashlights for fun.
- "Then let the party begin!"
- "Bonus for sharing snacks out of the same bowl."
Oh, and this advice comes from a friend who works for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to the poster.
What the CDC actually says
The CDC does not endorse a natural immunity method.
While chickenpox is for most children a mild disease, it is not for all children. The center says on its website:
"There’s no way to know who will have a serious case. When your child gets the chickenpox shots, he or she is getting immunity from chickenpox without the risk of serious complications of the disease."
Of the 4 million chickenpox cases each year, 10,600 lead to hospitalizations and up to 150 end in death; most of those deaths are prevented by the varicella vaccination.
Mom: 'Do my best to get you in'
While some parents appear only in the planning stages, another mom is actively penciling people in the calendar. A Facebook embed captured by the news station showed a mom talking about doing her best to fit anyone in who wants to be exposed to the disease.
"I have been swamped with requests to have my daughter share chicken pox, and I can accommodate as many requests as possible," the mom said.
Although parents' hope is to help their children, a trip to the grocery store or Target could mean spreading the disease to immune-compromised people. The highly contagious disease can be spread one to two days before a rash even appears on the body until after all chickenpox blisters form scabs, which is about five to seven days, according to the CDC.
There are some rare but serious side effects associated with chickenpox, including:
- Encephalitis, swelling of the brain
- bleeding problems
- bacterial skin infections
- bloodstream infections (sepsis)
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