Tags: swine flu parties | bad idea | H1N1 | intentionally infect

Swine Flu Parties Could Endanger You, Others, Doctor Warns

Monday, 12 October 2009 10:40 AM

Attending a so-called "swine-flu party" — intentionally mixing with friends or others infected with H1N1 with the hopes of building protection against the flu — could endanger not only the partyers but also others, a doctor says.
“It is a very, very bad idea,” says Dr. Walter White, who runs the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Student Health Service. “It goes against everything medicine and public health are trying to do to encourage social distancing for the infected, and it could hamper efforts to control the disease.”
The idea of swine flu parties is an extension of chicken pox and measles parties once viewed as a way to expose children to those infections and give them some biological resistance to subsequent strains of the disease.
But doctors and health officials are condemning the idea, says White, an associate professor in the university's Department of Family Medicine and Community Medicine. Although H1N1’s worldwide spread causes mostly mild sickness, the virus still carries the risk of severe illness and death. Relatively little is known about the science behind the 2009 strain, so safety and prevention are critical.

“I certainly understand the possible reasoning behind it, but people need to know flu parties are really a dangerous idea,” White says. “This is still a potentially harmful virus, and we’re trying to contain the illness as much as possible. We really don’t know, in advance, who is going to be the unfortunate person who has a bad or fatal outcome from this flu infection.”
Some data show that people infected with H1N1 flu can transmit the live virus to others for a longer period of time than previously thought. It is not clear, however, if new findings will lead to changes in social-distancing recommendations. Patients should stay home and limit contact until they’ve been fever free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicines, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The first waves of H1N1 vaccine will be allocated to states in proportion to population. Immunization is recommended first for high-risk groups such as children, pregnant women, healthcare workers who are direct care providers and adults with certain chronic health conditions. However, the determination on who actually will receive the first vaccine doses will depend on decisions at the county and local level, the CDC says. Those decisions are designed to reduce infection rates and protect the vulnerable, whereas actively encouraging swine flu’s spread could hamper those efforts.
“Another reason why I say flu parties are a bad idea? We have a vaccine on the horizon, and this vaccine is very effective at keeping people from getting H1N1,” White says. “I hope people are smart enough to know that risky behavior is bad advice when it comes to influenza.
“Preventing infection is the smartest way to go.”

© HealthDay

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The idea is too risky and acting on it could compromise public health – yet talk continues of “swine-flu parties,” where people intentionally mix with friends or others infected with H1N1 influenza.
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Monday, 12 October 2009 10:40 AM
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