Last week, a Nashville TV station reported a story about a woman selling lollipops licked by her children who were infected with chickenpox. People buying the $50 lollipops hoped to have their children infected with the disease in order to build up their immunity rather than vaccinate them. Some believe that it is better to have them exposed when they are young.
Throughout the nation, families attend "pox parties" for the sole purpose of infecting children with chicken pox. However, the enterprising mother who sold suckers licked by her sick kids was offering the service to those who don't live close enough to attend a pox party. She would mail them the virus.
After the story aired, Facebook posts offering to mail the infected lollipops have been removed because the law states that it is illegal to mail infectious substances via the U.S. Postal Service .
Not only is it illegal to mail infectious lollipops, experts say it is simply not a good idea to offer them to children.
According to Dr. Don Zetik with Tulsa's Pediatric and Adolescent Care, the lollipops could be covered with other infectious diseases.
In addition, Zetik says, "What some parents consider a 'quaint illness' not deemed dangerous, chickenpox, in fact, exposes people to other highly-contagious diseases. The sores caused by chickenpox can easily be infected with MRSA and flesh-eating strep ( necrotizing fasciitis )."
Chickenpox also may cause encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain.
Zetik says that the scariest thing about the idea of purposefully infecting children with chickenpox is that those children become a contagious vector giving it to others unable to get the vaccine, such as babies and those allergic.
"Rogue parents screw it up for everybody else," said Zetik.
According to the CDC , before the chickenpox (varicella) vaccine, 11,000 people were hospitalized each year in the U.S. The virus not only causes scarring but may also lead to pneumonia, brain damage or, years later, shingles.
Before the vaccine, approximately 100 sufferers would die from chickenpox each year. And experts say, unfortunately, it is not possible to predict which child will develop a life-threatening case of chickenpox.
Would you consider giving your child a used, infected lollipop?
Read the story from NBC's TODAY .