Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Aetiology and chicken pox parties

Over at Aetiology, Dr. Smith takes us into the wierd and wonderful world of holding chicken pox parties.
Like I said, I should have known this was probably still going on. I remember when I had chicken pox in first grade, and my cousin brought her three kids (who were my age--tangled family tree and long story) over to our house with the purpose of infecting them. It worked, and within a few days there were 6 of us spotted kids. But--this was in 1982, long before the introduction of the varicella vaccine here in the United States. Chickenpox "parties" were deemed a better alternative to potentially encountering the disease as an adult--when the frequency of serious complications is higher.
I find it more than morbidly fascinating that anyone would deliberately hold 'parties' to spread an infectious disease. I can almost picture what the event must look like, with children performing the chicken dance while spitting in each-others mouths. Sadly, I got my various childhood diseases without much celebration let alone having my friends over to collect on my misery as well. That the practice apparently continues even today is a bit curious as well, although I suspect it might have something to do with parents misinterpreting the hygiene hypothesis. A vaccine is perfectly acceptable immune stimulation as a real 'virulent' organism is. This is because the same processes that make a vaccine work are the same that allow your immune system to destroy an invader to begin with.

This was quite the revelation as well:
So far, I've escaped with little more than a few scars on my forehead (I admit, I was a scratcher) and the ugliest childhood picture *ever*, since I decided to do some surgery on my bangs while I was pocked--resulting in about quarter-inch long, very crooked bangs. Did I mention I also had giant pink glasses and a few missing teeth at the time as well?
Indeed, quite the image and I double/triple/quadruple dare Dr. Smith to post said picture. :D