Well here's a party you're probably happy you weren't invited to. The current measles outbreak has families reacting in some pretty rash ways, but public health officials are warning parents to stay away from one of the craziest ideas we've heard — measles parties. Yep, parents who haven't vaccinated their kids appear to be throwing parties designed to intentionally expose unvaccinated children to the measles virus, thinking it will help the tots develop a natural immunity.
Rumors of measles parties began surfacing last week when a San Francisco-area radio program featured the mother of two unvaccinated kids who says she was approached about exposing her kids to the virus. She declined the invitation, but the incident has the California Department of Public Health speaking out, saying it "strongly recommends against the intentional exposure of children to measles as it unnecessarily places the exposed children at potentially grave risk and could contribute to further spread of the outbreak. . . . Measles is a serious illness that can have significant consequences."
Virus-exposure parties aren't new. In the '80s, prior to the development of the chicken pox vaccine, "chicken pox parties" were thrown so families could expose their kids to milder forms of the virus in hopes of the kids retaining their immunity through adulthood — when the virus is more dangerous.
No actual measles parties have been confirmed at this point, but with at least 123 people in eight states and Mexico infected by the virus, we wouldn't be surprised if the idea gets tossed around more seriously.