BY MEGAN NOE
ANCHOR CHRISTY LEWIS
You may have heard of pox parties -- where parents take their unvaccinated children to play with chickenpox-infected kids. But this week the media uncovered a new twist in spreading the disease -- parents mailing contaminated lollipops across the country.
It started with a WSMV investigation into a Facebook page -- find a pox party in your area. Moms on the page posted offers to mail contaminated items, including suckers.
WERKIT: "Yes, they were sucked on by my kids."
REPORTER: "Why would you do that?"
WERKIT: "So that other people's kids can get chicken pox. They can't get them the normal way any more, of just naturally catching and naturally getting the immunity for life."
REPORTER: "I see that you're charging 50 dollars."
WERKIT: "I didn't make any money off of it, it was just the overnight shipping fee."
As if chicken pox isn't scary enough, KPHO discovered even more alarming requests.
"We spotted a woman asking for measles, a deadly and highly contagious disease. When asked why, she writes getting her children exposed is the only way not to get the vaccine without losing custody of them...To doctors like AD Jacobson, that is beyond simply bad advice. 'It kind of reminds me of people that were sending anthrax through the mail.'"
Doctors seem to agree that sending chicken pox through the mail is a bad idea -- but why?
For starters, an infectious disease expert tells the LA Times, it probably wouldn't even work.
"The varicella virus needs cells to live in, and there probably would be very few cells in spit or on a used lollipop. 'It's unlikely the virus would survive long enough,' he said. But more resilient types of infections -- dangerous ones -- could make it, including hepatitis B, group A strep, and staph germs."
Finally, MSNBC says -- it's a criminal offense.
"It is indeed illegal to mail chickenpox virus, says U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman Sue Brennan. 'Mailing infectious substances and/or materials is illegal unless it meets very specialized requirements between authorized partiesâ€”and chicken pox parties don't qualify.'"
Conviction could result in a sentence of less than a year to 20 years in prison.
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