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Thursday 27th October 2016

Chickenpox lolly sellers may face charges

15th November 2011

Authorities in the United States have caught a group of people selling chickenpox laced lollipops via mail order, and now face federal government charges.


US prosecutors have linked the people involved to a Facebook group called "Find a Pox Party in Your Area," which helped people to swap and to sell items laced with chickenpox.

In the US, being charged by the federal government is often reserved for the highest categories of criminal behaviour, and the case is causing an outcry in medical circles.

In this case, a group of parents located in various states throughout the countries all doubted the efficacy of vaccines.

Instead, the parents believed that the children should be deliberately infected with each other's viral specimens.

Tim Jones, the Tennessee state epidemiologist, said that the parents were putting people around them at risk.

He said that deliberately infecting children could lead to them dying, which counted as murder.

David Boling, a public information officer in Nashville, Tennessee, said that a substantial number of people were involved, and that sending a virus or disease through the US mail and private carriers was illegal, and that tampering with consumer products was also illegal.

He said that the issue first came to light when a television news report showed a Nashville woman shipping and receiving adulterated products.

Rafael Harpaz, of the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) Division of Viral Diseases, said that trading illnesses was an incredibly bad idea for a variety of reasons.

Jerry Martin, a lawyer based in Nashville, said that people who continued to engage in such activities would expose themselves to criminal prosecution.

Jones said that buying and selling infected or contaminated body fluids from complete strangers was utterly inexcusable, and that parents could also inadvertently be giving their children influenza or hepatitis as well.

Harpaz said that, before the usage of the varicella vaccine was widespread, about 100 children died every year of chickenpox, and that parents who didn't want to use the vaccine were playing with their children's lives.

Jones said that giving a child a disease in order to immunise it demonstrated completely misguided thinking.

He said that children undergoing chemotherapy, or children taking certain medicines, would not be immunised against chickenpox, and that in such cases parents who were deliberately infecting children with the virus put the lives of other people's children at risk, as well as their own.


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