Infectious Trend: Swine Flu Parties - NBC 7 San Diego

Infectious Trend: Swine Flu Parties



    While parents across America are scrambling to get their kids vaccinated for Swine Flu, some are taking a different approach: Swine Flu Parties, an attempt to spread the germs on purpose.

    "We first heard of parties like this back in the chicken pox era," said Dr. Mark Sawyer and infectious disease specialist at Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego.

    The idea is for party-goers to mingle with someone who has a mild case of the flu, hoping that they, too, get a mild case of the virus, allowing their body to build up natural immunity to it, protecting them from the flu later in life.

    Doctors don't seem to buy into the logic.

    Infectious Trend: Swine Flu Parties

    [DGO] Infectious Trend: Swine Flu Parties
    Imagine going to a party for the sole purpose of spreading H1N1.
    (Published Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2009)

    "To me, it's one of the craziest things I've heard of, actually," Sawyer said. "The trouble with influenza is your natural immunity really isn't that good. That's why we continue to immunize people every year, because the influenza virus changes over time."

    The Center for Disease Control agrees with Sawyer's assessment.

    "There's just no sense in [exposing] your child to a virus that has the potential to cause a lot of illness, particularly if your child has some sort of underlying health condition like asthma or diabetes," CDC spokesman Tom Skinner told NPR. "Influenza can be very serious.

    "Certainly [Swine Flu parties are] something that we would highly recommend not happen,"

    The best defense against the flu is to try to avoid it by washing hands frequently and staying away from those who are sick, Sawyer said.  There is also no guarantee just because you get the virus from someone with a mild version that you, too, will get a mild version.

    "The reason one person gets very sick and another doesn't isn't a function of the virus, that's a function of the person's immune system and any underlying conditions they may have," Sawyer said.