Experts advise against going to get-it-over-with swine flu parties

Invited to a swine flu party? It would be better to stay home and wash your hair.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, attending a swine party with the hope of contracting the virus and gaining immunity against it, isn’t a wise decision.

Kristy Emerson, spokeswoman for the Mesa County Health Department, said she hasn’t heard of any local swine flu parties, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any.

“That’s so scary,” she said. “It’s so much better to prevent an illness than hoping to get a mild to moderate case. If you expose your child and your child gets a bad case, it could kill them.”

The reasoning behind swine flu parties is similar to the chicken pox parties of the past. Then, parents would expose their children to another child with chicken pox so their children would develop the disease and gain immunity.

Swine flu however, affects people differently and young children are at a high risk of developing complications from the virus.

Chicken pox and swine flu aren’t the only illnesses peole wanted to have parties for.

In years past, people contacted the health department wanting to participate in West Nile virus parties to “get exposed to it so they wouldn’t have to get it again,” Emerson said. West Nile is transmitted to people by mosquitoes.

“While the disease seen in the current 2009 H1N1 flu outbreak has been mild for many people, it also has been severe and even fatal for others,” the CDC said on its Web site. “There is no way to predict with certainty what the outcome will be for an individual or, equally important, for others to whom the intentionally infected person may spread the virus.”

Instead of wondering whether to attend a swine flu party, get vaccinated, Emerson said.

Another shipment of H1N1 vaccine will be available this week at the Health Department for people in the priority groups.

Much of the initial hesitation among parents about getting their children vaccinated against the H1N1 virus seems to have subsided as the virus has spread, Emerson said.

While the Front Range peaked last week with its cases of H1N1, the Western Slope’s numbers of H1N1 cases will likely peak between now and mid- November, she said.

Mesa County has been receiving vaccine shipments weekly, but some of the state’s counties have not received any vaccine, Emerson said.

There have been 25 deaths in Colorado attributed to the H1N1 virus; seven of those who died were children.

As of Oct. 24, 1,306 people with the virus have been hospitalized. Mesa County reported 13 people hospitalized with H1N1 virus between Aug. 30 and Oct. 24, according to the state.

State laboratory testing shows that 99 percent of flu viruses in Colorado are the H1N1 virus.

“I think people are getting frustrated that we don’t have the (vaccine) supply to meet the demands,” Emerson said. “I think there are people that are afraid. It’s just as frustrating for us to not be able to provide it.”


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