July 3, 2009

Canada warns against H1N1 ‘parties’

Canadian health officials are warning against suggestions circulating on the Internet of H1N1 flu parties to deliberately self-immunize against the virus.

The concept of the parties in which parents send children to parties where one child is known to carry the virus was first reported by British media earlier this week.

The rationale is the children could catch a mild case of the flu, originally dubbed swine flu, and develop immunity before the virus mutates into a more virulent strain, the Canwest News Service reported.

Canada's chief public health officer, Dr. David Butler-Jones, told the news agency by telephone the parties are a bad idea.

You cannot predict which child will get seriously ill and die, he said. Who wants to have that party, and have that as a consequence? ... Certainly, trying to get infected at this time is potentially very dangerous.

Dr. David Patrick, director of epidemiology at the British Columbia Center for Disease Control agreed and told Canwest he wouldn't deliberately expose his own two children to the H1N1 virus.

We're well along in terms of vaccine production, so it's very likely that, by the fall, or at least the late fall, vaccine will be available for Canadians against this strain, which will be a much preferred option than taking the risk of exposing your kid to a live infection, Patrick said.