Measles parties are not recommended by health officials. It seems like a strange thing to say, but there are many parents hosting or attending these types of parties to expose their children to the disease. Many of these parents hope their children will get measles and then build an immunity against it later, so they will not need the vaccination. Similar parties have been held in the past for other diseases, including chicken pox.
The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highly recommends against exposing children unnecessarily to the disease. It can be extremely dangerous for children under five. In severe cases, it can lead to brain swelling and death. The warning over measles has come recently due to the number of cases in California and around the United States. There are now 103 confirmed cases within California since the initial outbreak at Disneyland in December last year. Currently, 67 of the cases have been linked to Disneyland, putting health officials on alert over the others. There are also 16 confirmed cases in Mexico and six other states.
Dr. Gil Chavez from the CDPH released a statement due to the latest news of intentionally exposing children to measles. He stated that it is a “potentially grave risk,” and could lead to the outbreak spreading further, putting more people at risk. Measles parties are not recommended by officials for any reasons.
In 2000, it was suspected that measles was eliminated from the whole of the United States. However, an outbreak in 2014 led to warnings that the disease was still around, and people should still be vaccinated against it. The outbreak last year and the year before was suspected to come from European and Asian immigrants. There was a large outbreak among unvaccinated people in the Amish community in Ohio.
Measles can take a few days before symptoms are noticed. It is highly contagious, since the disease can survive airborne hours after an infected person has left an area. People are contagious four days before the usual rash appears, often not realizing that they have the disease. They are then contagious until four days after the rash disappears. Some of the most common symptoms mimic flu symptoms, making it even harder to determine if it is measles at first.
There are now worries that the outbreak will continue, considering the locations of some of the outbreaks. State Department of Public Health director of the epidemiology and immunization division, Dr. Lawrence Madoff, states that it would not be surprising if there were cases in Massachusetts, due to one case in New York. There are also worries that there will be outbreaks due to seven cases in Arizona, where the Super Bowl was held last weekend.
Those who have had measles once are less likely to have it again, very similar to chicken pox. While there are debates over the vaccination, the knowledge of potentially being immunized in this way has led to parents considering exposing their children to people already with the disease. However, due to the seriousness of the disease, health officials are not recommending measles parties.
Opinion by Alexandria Ingham
Photo by Binu Nair – Flickr License