ROCK HILL, SC (WBTV) - As more children are not getting vaccinated for measles, physicians are warning parents to not participate in so-called “measles parties."
There have been reports of parents across the country taking their children to “measles parties” as U.S. measles cases continue to grow. The parties sound similar to “chicken-pox parties," which the CDC says parents would take part in with the hope that their child would contract the disease. The CDC strongly advises against it.
Piedmont Medical Center’s Dr. Arash Poursina is an infectious disease specialist. He believes parents are taking part in these “parties” because of misinformation.
“For the life of me. I cannot imagine why a parent would knowingly put a child and every other person that child comes into contact with later on at risk,” Poursina said.
Children who go without vaccinations have more than doubled in York and Lancaster counties within the last five years, WBTV found.
While many children who contract chickenpox build an immunity to the virus, the CDC says it is possible to get it twice.
“Chickenpox can be serious and can lead to severe complications and death, even in healthy children. There is no way to tell in advance how severe your child’s symptoms will be. So it is not worth taking the chance of exposing your child to someone with the disease,” the CDC website reads.
Chickenpox and the measles can lead to serious complications. Poursina says the hope of your child contracting the disease once and getting it over with is dangerous because the complications can be deadly.
“My hope is that the more we talk about it, the more we spread information, the more people will know how dangerous the disease is,” Poursina said.
While the highly contagious measles virus does cause a rash and fever, Poursina says the complications can be much worse and you cannot predict who will have those complications.
For example, one in 1,000 children who contract measles could develop an infection in the brain known as Encephalitis, according to the CDC.
“Following an infection of the brain there is usually permanent damage of the brain in which the kid is disabled for the rest of their lives in some way or form, deafness or blindness things like that, in which the kid becomes non-functional,” Dr. Poursina said.
A rarer complication of measles is subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSP), a brain disease that develops seven to ten years after a child recovers from measles.
“Ten years down the line the kid starts losing all of their milestones, starts going backwards, developing mental handicap, seizures, brain disorders, a downhill course after that and usually ends up dying,” Dr. Poursina said.
He urges parents to have their children vaccinated.