This is a topic which comes up every few years in the press with a certain amount of debate. Chicken pox is a mild infectious disease most common in children under the age of ten and causes a red rash of itchy spots that form blisters, which then crust over and form scabs which then drop off. As I am writing this I immediately want to say yuk!
It is caused by a virus and is spread through coughs and sneezes from the infected person. The formulae for a chicken pox party is that healthy children are invited to spend time in close proximity to the child who already has the virus, in the hope that they will catch it at a planned time to avoid them getting it on holiday, or at a bad time for the family… clever you may think!!! There is an added advantage that if you catch chicken pox as a child you are much less likely to catch it as an adult when complications are more common.
If the idea appeals you are looking towards inviting round a group of well, lively children to play with your child who may be feeling pretty miserable and may well have a fever which makes them feel even worse, not to mention the itching which anyone who has been bitten by a mosquito can relate to. Ummm now it feels convenient for the family but not so good for the patient….
The party needs to be arranged at short-notice as children are only infectious until the last blister has burst and crusted over, think around five to six days.
Natch any adults in attendance will also be at risk, and yes although rare, chicken pox can be caught again. According to NHS Direct 13% of people say they have had chicken pox more than once, probably they did not develop antibodies the first time round. So now we are entertaining a scenario where there could be a two generation outbreak.
Does the host bear any further responsibility towards the ‘guests’? Chicken pox needs to be avoided in pregnancy as it can cause complications both for the mother and in rare cases a significant harm to the unborn baby. Others at risk are babies under one month, so the host has to factor in the siblings of those invited, and anyone with a compromised immune system.
A final consideration, your child is unwell so their immune system is already working very hard, you bring in a group of other children who may be at the start of developing other diseases therefore putting your child at risk…..
Who doesn’t love a party but for this one we have to say
Thanks but no Thanks
Jill Wheatcroft MSc, RSCN, BSc Community Children’s Nursing is a Lecturer in Children’s Nursing. She has gained extensive experience in Paediatrics both in hospital ward and community settings. She has a specialism in the teaching of Child Protection, Safeguarding and Paediatric First Aid and is the Programme Co-ordinator for Riverside Nannies and Riverside Training Company