California health officials have warned parents about the consequences of holding “measles parties” that are intended to infect the child with measles and other contagious illnesses.
The California Department of Public Health "strongly recommends against the intentional exposure of children to measles as it unnecessarily places the exposed children at potentially grave risk and could contribute to further spread of the outbreak," the agency said in a statement today.
During the 1950s and 1960s, measles parties were popular among parents of young children. These parties were based around the conception that once a child is infected with measles, they will build up immunity which will prevent them from catching a contagious disease again.
Despite this popular belief, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are advising parents to protect their child from the virus by avoiding exposure.
“This is a really bad idea,” said Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News' chief health and medical editor. “Although most children recover from chicken pox and measles without a problem, not all do. The vaccines are far safer than the diseases.”
Measles is known best for inducing a full-body rash. Other symptoms include:
- Runny nose
- High fever
- Red eyes
- Red spots inside the mouth
- Body aches
Concerns associated with measles have been on the rise after the CDC released information that revealed there have been 121 confirmed measles cases in 17 states since Jan. 1 2015. Health experts believe the most recent outbreak originated among a group of unvaccinated vacationers at Disneyland in California.
Doctors in California have even started turning children who have not been vaccinated away for fear of causing an outbreak among other patients.
"We decided that the patients who are not vaccinated are presenting a clear and present danger," Dr. Charles Goodman, a pediatrician who has been practicing for over 20 years, told the LA Times. "It just wasn't fair for a small number of patients to put those many patients, who either couldn't be vaccinated because they're too young or had a weakened immune system, at risk."
Despite concerns, Goodman and other doctors like him have vowed to help find doctors to treat parents who have not or who refuse to vaccinate their children.
"I would encourage other pediatricians as well as family practitioners that treat children to do the same thing," Goodman said. "Put your foot down now; tell those kids they need to get the immunizations."