This has got to be one of the most bizarre, crazy and just plain disgusting stories I’ve heard in a long time.
Chickenpox is a pretty nasty disease to have. Like most adults, I went through it when I was a child because there was no vaccine at the time. It was pretty misserable, but I was lucky, because despite missing more than a week of school and being covered with an itchy, painful rash, I didn’t have any lasting effects. Some are not so lucky. It’s fairly common to be left with disfiguring scars, especially on the face, from chickenpox (I know a few people with such marks on their cheeks or forehead). It’s less common, though not unheard of to have more severe and lingering effects and occasionally even death.
The virus tends to be less severe in children than adults, there was once a custom of intentionally infecting children with the disease. So-called “pox parties” were held where children intentionally came into contact with others with chickenpox to get the disease when young. Whether exposing children to the disease intentionally was ever a justifiable idea is debatable (most medical experts think it was always a bad idea), but it certainly is not any more. These days, there is a vaccine for chickenpox that is highly effective and avoids the discomfort, suffering, dangers and possible disfigurement of the disease. The vaccine is now part of the normal vaccine schedule and most children receive it. Chickenpox is therefore far less common than it once was.
But what to do if you’re a vaccine fearing idiot? Since the antivax crowd seems to think that getting infections is a good thing and boosts the immune system, a pox party seems like it would be right up their ally. The only problem is that the vaccine has reduced the number of cases of chickenpox enough to make it difficult to find a good pathogen host to infect your kid with. So what to do? Why not use social networking to find other like-minded morons around the world and swap spit by mail with them.
The most popular and widely reported on Facebook group for doing this appears to have been recently shut down, but that’s unlikely to actually stop anyone in the long run.
I’m not even kidding…