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Monday, November 07, 2011

The Absurdity of Using Facebook to Send Real Illnesses via Mail


It’s one thing to have concerns about the possible harmful effect of vaccines and/or not vaccinate one’s children due to these fears. While the anti-vaccine community will vigorously defend their concerns and choices, other will strongly criticize the need for these fears and the decision not to vaccinate with standard vaccines.

Regardless of what side you come down on, the decision not to vaccinate is not illegal if the parent(s) cites a religious objection or health reason that contra-indicates the need for a vaccine. But it is quite another thing for parents to take vaccination fears to such an extreme that they purchase lollipops, saliva, Q-tips, or other items over the internet that are infected with chicken pox and other bacteria in an attempt to vaccinate their children against the disease.


Although this may sound unbelievable, it is true. There is a Facebook page entitled “Find a Pox Party in Your Area” that allows people to connect who want to share viruses through the mail to naturally vaccinate their children. Here is what one of the messages on the page says from the administrator of the page: "Warning. The mailing of infectious items, such as lollipops, rags, etc, is a federal offense. This page is not private and can been seen by members and non members alike. You may post on the page that you have the pox and are willing to share but please keep your specifics in private messages between members.”

I’m not a lawyer, but it seems to me that the administrator is readily acknowledging that mailing these viruses are a federal crime but endorses people using the page to find others to carry out a crime. Some of the posters are charging $50.00 for infected materials. The page is not limited to people seeking natural immunity to chicken pox, however, as some posters have actively sought items tainted with measles. This is more concerning because measles is a more serious disease as it is more deadly and has more complications.

Regardless of the bacteria (or virus), no one should be sending these materials through the mail. The infected materials could contain other serious diseases that the parent is unaware of, such as hepatitis. How effectively these diseases can be transmitted is questionable, but it is possible, particularly when one proposed method is drinking another child’s saliva sent through the mail.

While social media has so many positive benefits to offer patients and healthcare providers, this is one of the negative sides. Healthcare providers need to be aware of this issue and dissuade parents from taking this route. For parents caught doing this, regardless of how correct they believe their views to be, they will likely find themselves facing serious federal charges in addition to the health hazards potentially inflicted on innocent people.

When I wrote this entry on 11/6/11, the Facebook page mentioned above was still open to the public. Later that night, it was gone, perhaps due to fears the administrators and participants had about federal prosecution.

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