Mail Order Chicken Pox Lollipops: Parents Warned About Illegal Practice

Authorities and doctors are warning parents, who want to avoid chickenpox vaccines for their children, to abstain from trying a new mail-order scheme to share lollipops licked by children infected with the disease. The process, which is promoted as a way to create immunity to chickenpox, is not only unsafe but also illegal.

Groups are forming on social networking sites like Facebook to promote a “natural” way to vaccinate their children. Since sending infectious diseases by mail is a federal crime, those Internet offers have become hard to find.

Purposely, infecting your child with chickenpox can put others around them at risk. People with other diseases, like cancer, can become gravely ill if they come in contact with someone with chickenpox.

Although, once you’re infected you cannot get chickenpox again, if and when the virus re-emerges, it can cause other infectious diseases like shingles or hepatitis.

Also, a child can become very ill and suffer from more serious diseases like chickenpox pneumonia, which represents the worst features of chickenpox.

Isaac Thomsen, a specialist in pediatric infectious diseases at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, told the Associated Press that shipping the infected items is “theoretically possible” but “probably not an effective way to transmit it. It typically has to be inhaled.”

In 1995, the chickenpox vaccine, varicella, was approved for use in the United States. Every state requires every child be vaccinated before they can enter day care or school.

There are some exceptions that vary state to state, including proof that the child has contracted the virus on his or her own and has parents who refrain from getting their children vaccinated due to religious reasons.

The chickenpox vaccine keeps kids from getting the chickenpox virus. Chickenpox is a herpes virus. And like other herpes viruses, infection is lifelong.