back to article Feds warn 'pox party' zealots not to send viruses in post

Health officials in Tennessee have warned parents that giving their children chickenpox-infected lollipops ordered over the internet is not a legitimate substitute for the state's mandatory immunisation programme for the scratch-inducing infection. The warning from Jerry Martin, US attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee …


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  1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Typical bureaucratic stupidity

    Leaving aside the frankly bizarre antivaxer panic....

    "More to the point, he reminded needle-phobic parents that sending viruses through the mail is against the law, and could result in a federal prosecution."

    I wonder how that's supposed to work? Shall I get a Cobalt-60 gamma ray sterilizer for my mail packages??? Oh wait, it's probably against the law to have that either.

    The Surgeon General recommends to commit at least three federal felonies against random shit a day!

    1. DrXym

      What it means

      Is that they've been served notice that it's illegal and dangerous. If someone subsequently dies or becomes ill (e.g. the local postman) you can expect these people will get the book thrown at them.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Binary thinking

      How is the weather in binaryland today? 0 or 1?

    3. LuMan

      Yeah, but.

      Imagine what may happen if your kid has a particularly weak immune system and you open a package at the breakfast table that is festooned with all manner of germs. Nasty.

      I agree that it's a difficult law to police, but sometimes the fear of actually performing an illegal activity is enough to stop a sizeable portion of idiots sending potentially harmful shit through the mail!

  2. Christoph

    Open door for terrorists

    These would be the same americans that a few years ago were panicking every time they saw any white powder in case it might be anthrax?

    The americans who complain to the pilot if they see someone on a plane who looks like an arab?

    The americans who check halloween sweets for embedded razor blades?

    And they're now asking strangers to send viruses to infect their kids.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: the same americans that...

      In fairness, it's probably a different set of Americans. There are rather a lot of them.

      And on that subject, may I extend my heartfelt sympathy to anyone living in Tennessee who isn't a complete moron. It must be really embarrassing for you right now.

  3. Trokair 1
    Black Helicopters

    Find a Smallpox Party Near You

    Just join up to the US Military. We get all kinds of shots. Smallpox in particular was a very nasty ordeal what with the swollen glands, fever, oozing sore, aches and pains.Not something "party" worthy.

    1. completely_hatstand

      Yes god only knows what you put in your spam version of the smallpox vaccine, the brit one is extremely civilized in comparison yet still seems to stop me catching smallpox?

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      I would not be so sure

      See recent publications in magazines like Nature for links between Smallpox, smallpox vaccination and AIDS prevalence. That is not surprising as they both interact with the same protein group on white blood cells (in the smallpox case - to hinder immune response and prolong the contagious phase).

      So it may in fact be a very good "party shot".

      Disclaimer - I had it as a kid so I do not recall just how bad it was (this was in the days when nobody was sure if it is fully eradicated so it was on the mandatory shot list before going to certain parts of Africa).

    3. FrankAlphaXII

      Yeah, the smallpox vaccine sucks. I was going on leave the day after I had mine, and ill tell you the first three days made that the worst vacation I ever had. Anthrax was bad too, all 7 times.

  4. RichyS

    Chlamydia Parties

    Hasn't FaceBook been running 'Find a Chlamydia Party Near You' (okay, it might be called something a /little/ different) for years now?

    How is this different.

  5. Steve the Cynic

    Chicken pox

    I had chicken pox as a whippersnapper of about 8 or 9, back when nobody much in the UK bothered with vaccination against it. I had the itchy spots and not much else. The family across the road had two kids, a lad my age who was vaguely unwell from the same batch of pox I had, and a girl a couple of years younger who was seriously ill with it.

    And of course while I had it, I wasn't allowed anywhere near my father, as he had managed to escape childhood without getting chicken pox, and it is almost always in the "seriously ill" category when adults get it...

    So, folks, don't do this. The chances of your kid being seriously ill from real chicken pox are much higher than they are for the vaccine.

    1. usbac Silver badge

      Seriously ill for sure. I had Chicken pox a few years ago (in my late 30's). Wow, was I sick. Almost hospitalized.

      I really wished I had been vaccinated when I was younger.

      1. david wilson

        I got it when I was 21, and it was basically a case of "What the ****are all these spots?", followed by a boring itchy week in quarantine at Uni, with one night of sweats/chills to make me feel slightly less of a fraud.

        Rubella 10 years later was less fun - one week of heavy flu-ish symptoms, and then a second week of fairly overwhelming lethargy.

  6. Robin Bradshaw

    Lick and stick stamps?

    Does the US still use lick and stick stamps or have they too switched to the peel and stick ones like here in the UK?

    If they are still using the older ones then I suggest most of their mail is illegal :)

    1. kain preacher

      We have not had to lick stamps in long time.

      1. Ben 42


        All of the envelopes I've used are still the lick and stick type, so the point still stands. :-)

  7. Simon Barnes

    Been there, done that :)

    I recall my mum taking my brothers and me to a chicken pox party when I was about 7. This was in Newport, Wales, about 1960 :)

  8. Jimbo 6

    there are always parents sceptical of "unnatural" immunisation programmes

    ... not to mention big metal birds, crackle-magic, photergraffs, the printing press, folks that don't need a suntan to be brown, the wheel, fire...

  9. Dave 32


    Some of us wear our small pox vaccination scar proudly on our left arm. :-)

    Hmm, can't wait for the HIV and/or Ebola parties. Those should be really fun...NOT!


    P.S. So, which Ebola virus will be the virus of choice? Ebola Zaire? Ebola Sudan? Or Ebola Reston? (Make mine the Ebola Reston!). Oh, look, there are two new Ebola viruses now. Plus, there's always Marburg.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "We can only be thankful that there is, as yet, no Find a Smallpox Party Near You page."

    I couldnt let this terrible oversight go unfixed so I fixed it for you. No need to thank me.

    1. Bango Skank

      Don't be surprised

      ... if you get some very enthusiastic takers.

      If the pox-party types couldn't be bothered to check the stats of what the real disease can do versus the rate of harm from the vaccy, then they might not mind trying it on with something a bit more lethal either.

  11. Dazed and Confused

    Find a Measles party near you

    As someone who was nearly killed by Measles I'd recommend finding another way to entertain little Jonny.

    There is a good chance mine was caught at a Measles party too, this was before MMR.

    Measles like chicken pox is a virus so a quick dose on anti-biotics ain't going to help.

  12. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge


    The difference is that the US one actually protects against the strain of smallpox which would have been used in weapons (if anyone had ever considered using it in weapons and developed a stockpile of them of course)

    The UK one which was bought in huge quantities by the last government, from a major donor to the last government, only protects against the natural form which is extinct.

    The US one does have the unfortunate side effect of occasionally killing family members of those vaccinated.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wow! Just wow!

    We're really lucky that measles is never fatal and there are no cases of the chickenpox virus causing serious conditions in adults with immune deficiencies.

    Oh wait a moment...

  14. Suburban Inmate

    Amazed we got this far as a species.

    Back when I were a nipper all we had were the outdoors, playgrounds, other kids, mud pies, paddling pools, sand pits...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Antivaxers - oh I hate them

    These asswipes need to be shut-down before MORE kids die.

    Yes, they've been directly linked to child deaths.

    Free speech be damned!

    Anon, because I can.

  16. Shonko Kid

    Dear America

    You are all just too weird. Please stop.

  17. Glenn Charles

    Sharing infections

    It was pretty fatal at the end of the Middle Ages if you recall. But then most Americans certainly aren't students of history and I daresay most people.

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