‘Pox Parties’ and Bioterrorism

I’ve had with it anti-vaxxers–this story makes me want to get all Dominican/Dogs of God on their ass:

Doctors and medical experts are concerned about a new trend taking place on Facebook. Parents are trading live viruses through the mail in order to infect their children.

The Facebook group is called “Find a Pox Party in Your Area.” According to the group’s page, it is geared toward “parents who want their children to obtain natural immunity for the chicken pox.”

On the page, parents post where they live and ask if anyone with a child who has the chicken pox would be willing to send saliva, infected lollipops or clothing through the mail.

Parents also use the page to set up play dates with children who currently have chicken pox.

Medical experts say the most troubling part of this is parents are taking pathogens from complete strangers and deliberately infecting their children.

One concern is that they are sending the virus through the mail.

A Facebook post reads, “I got a Pox Package in mail just moments ago. I have two lollipops and a wet rag and spit.” Another woman warns, “This is a federal offense to intentionally mail a contagion.”

Another woman answers, “Tuck it inside a zip lock baggy and then put the baggy in the envelope 🙂 Don’t put anything identifying it as pox.”

This is insane and puts postal workers and others at risk. The only difference between this and bioterrorism is intent, which given the health risks holds very little importance. But this being anti-vaccination denialism, it gets better dumber:

CBS 5 producers found others asking for more dangerous pathogens. Two people on the Facebook page were looking for measles, mumps, and rubella.

How anyone could think infecting a child with unattenuated live measles, mumps or rubella virus is safe? This is nothing more than child abuse through microbiology.

Andrew Wakefield has a lot to answer for.

This entry was posted in Fucking Morons, Public Health, Terrorism, Vaccination. Bookmark the permalink.

55 Responses to ‘Pox Parties’ and Bioterrorism

  1. deinst says:

    Reminds me of the old Firesign Theater “Beat the Reaper” routine. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3zZ_ih0Jpc

  2. CM Doran says:

    ….and they find this “safer” or less yucky than getting a sterilized product?….are they buying those blowtubes too so the scabs can be blown up the nose? Big WOW…thanks for writing.

  3. andrewD says:

    When I was a child, in the pre-rubella vaccine days, Parents would hold german measles (rubella)parties for pre teenage girls to give them immunity. This was to prevent fetal damage in pregnancy at a later date. The parties were held when a child became infected naturally no one would have sent viral samples by post(I doubt any one would have thought of it). This practise died out with the development of a safe vaccine.

  4. Karen says:

    Batsh** insane. Just. Completely. Insane.

  5. monoboyzmom says:

    I think they are taking South Park a little too literally.

  6. Nick Steno says:

    In addition, Jenny McCarthy should be put in the pillory:


  7. eNeMeE says:

    Dear pathogen mailing fuckers,

    Please stop. Or die.

    A transplant recipient

  8. CowJam says:

    There’s 149 people in the “find a pox party near you” group, I’m not sure it’s worth getting worked up about.

    • Bob says:

      So there are enough people participating in this madness that there are 149 exceptionally stupid members who do so publicly? Or does it somehow make more sense to think that those 149 represent the total number of parents participating in a conspiracy to violate federal postage laws?

      • JaredCC says:

        Right Bob – I am sure it’s a conspiracy to violate federal postage laws.

        Good grief – violating “federal postage laws” is secondary to the discussion of whether it is ethical/wise for parents to share and expose their children to viruses – to assume that arbitrary postage laws are protecting me or anyone from bioterrorism is ridiculous.

  9. Unbelievably stupid!

  10. The Facebook page for this group appears to have been deleted. Save your google caches!

  11. jens says:

    Sending any kind of virus over the post is insane and criminal. Giving your child measles, mumps or rubella instead of a vaccine is insane and criminal. Pox parties, however, make sense – or at least they did fifteen years ago. If you have a school holiday coming up, isn’t it better for your child to have chickenpox during the holiday instead of missing school? There are a few diseases which are not routinely vaccinated, which are better to have had during childhood – and I’m all for making sure your child has had them.

    • Gamermomma says:

      They vaccinate for chicken pox now and mainly because the virus can live on the nerves and cause Shingles later in life. It is EXTREMELY painful and can lead to blindness and deafness among other things. The vaccine is better than getting it naturally since usually the virus is dead and won’t continue to live on your nerves until adulthood.


      • alSeen says:

        Yes, shingles is bad. Deadly even in adults.

        However, actually getting chickenpox as a child PROTECTS you against getting shingles.

        There is no evidence (because it hasn’t been around long enough) that the vaccine provides the same level of protection against getting shingles as actually contracting chickenpox as a child does.

        • unmaidmarian says:

          Actually, untrue. I got chicken pox the good ol’ fashioned way when I was a kid, and have so far had two outbreaks of shingles, one in my eye. Fortunately, it did not damage my vision, but while it was active it was beyond suckage. So I’m pretty sure chicken pox did the opposite of protecting me.

        • That is one of the most ignorant pieces of crap I have ever read.
          This idiot is saying that chickenpox PREVENTS shingles?

        • MBR says:

          alSeen, I’m sorry, but you’re wrong.


          “After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus remains inactive in the body. Usually the virus does not cause any further problems; however, the virus may re-emerge years later, causing shingles.”

          “How is shingles spread?

          A person must have already had chickenpox in the past to develop shingles. ”

          There are vaccines for shingles now that can be given to folks who have recovered from chickenpox and are at risk for shingles, particularly those over 50 years old and immuno compromised.

        • OtherRob says:

          No, it’s just the opposite. GETTING Chicken pox puts you at risk for getting shingles. The chicken pox virus remains dormant in your system after the symptoms disappear. It can then reappear when you’re an adult and when it does so, you get get shingles. I had chicken pox as a kid and about five or six years ago I got shingles as an adult. Not fun.

        • Gamermomma says:

          Uh, no. It doesn’t protect you from getting shingles. Did you not read the link? You get shingles because you had chicken pox as a kid and the virus lies dormant on your nerves.

        • Mary P says:

          What the @#$# are you talking about? Getting chickenpox Protects from shingles? “After you get chickenpox, the virus remains inactive (becomes dormant) in certain nerves in the body. Shingles occurs after the virus becomes active again in these nerves years later.”
          Ask my brother how much fun it was. We got chickenpox well before there was a vaccine.

  12. capnthommo says:

    Face/palm. As terry pratchett wrote ‘if you buried a button in an isolated cave, and painted a big sign – end of the world button, do not touch – the paint wouldn’t have time to dry.’
    Take us now lord, we too stupid to live.

  13. Guest says:

    Jeeeeeesus! :O

    As someone with a chronic health condition, I can’t help but imagine what might happen to postal workers who also have chronic health problems. What if someone with MS touches that package? It could be really, really bad for them.

    I want to report that “zip lock baggy” woman.

    • BC says:

      This page has been reported numerous times. They put a disclaimer on there basically saying its illegal to send infectious items so dont mention it publically if you do it…ugh.

  14. I can’t believe that there’s nothing that can be done to stop these morons. If they’re swapping info, and even seriously thinking about mailing contagious pathogens (which is very illegal), you’d think that some kind of authority would be able to crack down on this kind of thing, before people that aren’t involved in this become caught in the crossfire and become infected with what’s being sent via post accidentally.

  15. amy says:

    MEASLES? THROUGH THE MAIL? Jesus, arrest that idiot woman now.

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  17. Dave says:

    I nominate the originator for a Darwin award!

  18. Anne says:

    Would these idiot anti-vaccine, parents also deliberately infect their kids with diphtheria or polio? Their answer would be, “but no, those disease kill.”. Well so does measles!

    • Nomen Nescio says:

      diphtheria i’m sorely afraid some maroon probably would go for; the memories of that disease have faded to where folks who don’t read some history barely recognize the name. polio i’d love to think noone would be foolish enough to touch, but i’ll not place any bets on it.

      i think i had the mumps, before i was old enough to remember it. the stories i’ve heard from my parents and grandparents involve hospital workers going into conniptions and my older brother being pulled out of school for the duration. deliberately infecting a child with something that can do that…

  19. emilydev9 says:

    I got adult chicken pox recently after a wedding where one of the flower girls had spots; another adult as well as two toddlers also got it. I got on antivirals as soon as the spots appeared and was still sick as a dog for 10 days. (I did have it as a kid but, we think, it was a different strain, from a different continent.) On behalf of any susceptible adults, including pregnant women, who might be unintentionally exposed in the process of intentionally exposing children, I say to these idiots fuck you very much.

  20. Ceri Shaw says:

    Please post a link to their FB page…cant find it….wanted to request some bubonic plague…just for the kids of course 🙂

  21. Tam A. says:

    Just to clear up the whole CP/Shingles connection. Until the invention of the CP vaccine, shingles was an “elderly” illness – pretty much exclusively. Shingles has gone up 90% since the CP vaccine began in 1996. You do NOT need to have had CP to get Shingles – shingles is its own unique expression of the Zoster (but VERY similar to CP). CP vaccine is estimated to last between 5-10 years only, and it provides a much weaker immunity than wild CP does. This means that if a child contracts CP, they will likely be unhappy for a week, but will then have a very strong resistance to CP and later on, to Shingles.
    BUT – this child who had the wild chicken pox will need to periodically receive a “natural” booster (from being around children who have CP), and in this way, the elder population has been mostly protected from shingles for hundreds of years. Since the CP vax though, it has become more and more difficult for elderly people to receive a “natural” booster (it does not need to be intentional – CP is contagious 48 hours before it even shows, so just going grocery shopping, or to the library etc., ends up providing natural boosters).
    The CP vax was originally only created for severely immune-compromised children (like those with major diseases), but quickly became mandated in most states. The real problem is two – fold. One – parents may make sure that their children get a vaccine and then a CP booster as a teenager – but how many adults are current and up to date on their shots?
    This leaves a huge gap of young people who are completely susceptible to getting CP and/or shingles as an adult (which is REALLY DANGEROUS – not at all like CP in children!).
    The second problem is that since so many kids are no longer getting wild CP, many elderly people (and even younger – there have been a few cases of children) are now getting Shingles (which is VERY DANGEROUS AND TERRIBLY PAINFUL). So PHARM quickly kicked out a Shingles Vax ($), which is LESS THAN 50% effective.

    In my opinion, I had CP the first day of summer vacay at the end of my 4th grade year, and yeah, it sucked, but it was no big deal and I appreciate my strong immunity. I have resisted getting the CP vax for 3 out of my 4 kids (my 4th is not old enough yet) and they have all acquired Wild CP (each time served as a great booster to myself, my husband, and both of my parents!). I sincerely hope that my 4th child acquires Wild CP too, but if he does not (prior to his teenage years), then I will give him the vax, and be vigilant with him for as long as I am alive that he needs to get the booster shots. My parents are 79 and 69 and have been totally Shingles and CP free (they both did have CP as children).
    So, we don’t spend the $ on a pointless vaccine, a pointless doctor’s appt (to get said vaccine) and don’t have to spend the $ being hospitalized or placed on expensive steroids and medications for Shingles either!
    I certainly do not support sending any contaminated items through the mail service, but I can see logic in local pox parties. This was the way it was for a VERY long time before the CP vax came out.
    Also, most of the world (Europe, Japan etc) require DTaP, MMR and Polio vaccines. The US requires more vaccines than any other country – and we have the HIGHEST infant mortality rate out of all “modernized” countries. Just something to think about. I support selective vaccinating, but at the end of the day, still believe it is the right of the parent to decide.

    • mimi says:

      Just give the elderly a shingles vax. Vaccinations are better than being really sick.

    • I wish you and yours continued health, but please please please read some actual science. And perhaps public policy (the “U.S.” doesn’t “require” any vaccines – it’s very local). You’re here on a science blog, which is a good start!

    • amhovgaard says:

      I had chickenpox as a kid, and shingles in my early thirties: My doctor didn’t seem to think that was odd, just commented that it’s more serious in the elderly.

      Infant mortality: have you looked at the differences in poverty rates? For a relatively wealthy country, the US has a lot of really poor people – with problems WRT access to health care, + nutrition and various health related behaviors.

    • JaredCC says:

      Wow – I love how this comment received almost no attention – looks like everyone just wanted to burn witches.

      “Since the CP vax though, it has become more and more difficult for elderly people to receive a “natural” booster (it does not need to be intentional – CP is contagious 48 hours before it even shows, so just going grocery shopping, or to the library etc., ends up providing natural boosters).”

      So – question for everyone lampooning these parents (that I agree are kind of stupid for mailing/using mailed viruses) should they go to jail for exposing potentially thousands of people by taking their infected child to any public place?

      Because that is the logic I am seeing.

  22. Ceri Shaw says:

    Late to the party….thank god the buggers have been taken down on FB…….presumably they are still at it tho?

    • BC says:

      The page was still there today. I think the admin temporairly takes it down. He posted on Tenpennys page for support for his pox party page…ugh!

  23. murfomurf says:

    I hope someone recorded who those criminals were and reported them to the public health authorities locally. Even waiting until your child acquires chicken pox naturally, rather than having them vaccinated is a damaging thing: the child could catch it, and develop one of the complications. The itching itself is extremely distressing for many kids and they all scratch, producing some scars, usually on the face. This is the standard advice: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001592.htm.
    In spite of having chickenpox at 2 yrs old, I have had shingles 3 times as an adult: first a classic case of big hanging blisters over my chest and upper arms, then 2 years later around my left ear and then another 4 years later, around my left eye. The first shingles responded really well to an antiviral and I had no symptoms after 4 days. I’ve never had the neuropathic pain at all. The other small flare-ups took longer to clear, but were not very itchy. The worst thing for me was the boiling fever that accompanied each episode! So beware- shingles can strike, no matter your previous chickenpox history.

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  28. mutantdragon says:

    Gaaaahhhhhh. I can’t believe these idiots. This kind of stuff is enough to make me lose my mind. I just don’t get it. What are they THINKING….

  29. Emma says:

    One of the pages is going “underground” http://www.facebook.com/pages/Find-A-Pox-Party-Near-You/191922217552208#!/pages/Find-A-Pox-Party-Near-You/191922217552208
    but they were nice enough to leave their email so they can still contact each other. poxparty@gmail.com. They need to be reported. Just because it is a private email doesn’t make it legal.

  30. This is over the line. Not only are they endangering their own children, but they are putting the general public at even more risk than they normally would by not vaccinating. I think parents should get to choose what they do with their children medically within limits, but they should also take responsibility for the consequences. If you refuse to vaccinate your child, and said child then dies from a preventable illness, you should be charged with manslaughter.

  31. Chas100 says:

    Could someone please forward the web addresses of the pox partiers to the FBI & CDC, with a request for investigation for violation of federal law? I’d also like to see someone file civil suits against these pox party sociopaths.

    I had chicken pox, measles, and mumps as a young child in the days before the vaccines — truly awful experiences. So was my subsequent shingles.

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