Wasn’t it nice this summer not to have to hear about swine flu every day? Well no sooner did the thermometer drop below scorching and lo and behold, swine flu is making the headlines again. According to a WHO briefing last week, evidence from multiple outbreak sites demonstrates that the swine flu virus has rapidly established itself and is now the dominant influenza strain in most parts of the world. Also in the news is one of the latest swine flu trends: the “swine flu party.” I’m not sure what the decorations would be, and what would be in the goody bags? Boxes of tissue and plenty of fluids? But, woohoo, you’re invited!
“Swine flu parties” are gatherings in which people come together to swap germs with a person who has “novel H1N1 flu” (which is, by the way, the CDC‘s upgraded name for swine flu) in order to become infected with the virus. The intent of these parties is for a person to become infected with what for many people has been a mild disease, in the hope of having natural immunity to the virus that might become a more severe disease later.
The CDC does not recommend swine flu parties as a way to protect against future infection with novel H1N1 flu: While the disease seen in the current novel H1N1 flu outbreak has been mild for many people, it has been severe and even fatal for others. There is no way to predict with certainty what the outcome will be for an individual or, equally important, for others to whom the intentionally infected person may spread the virus.
Rather than deliberately exposing yourself to the virus, or exposing others to it if you have it, the CDC recommends that people with novel H1N1 flu avoid contact with others as much as possible. If you are sick with flu-like illness, you should stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities.
Not long ago when my kids were at the chicken-pox vaccination age, many of my mom-friends talked about chicken pox parties based on a similar premise. Some were adamant about surrendering to infection so that they could have control over it and avoid vaccinations. What are your thoughts on “virus parties”? Would you deliberately expose yourself or your children to novel H1N1 flu, or another virus, in order to build immunity? I’m very interested in hearing both sides of this story. RSVP in the comment field below!
Read more from the Care2 Swine Flu Project here: