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Parents have been warned not to take their children to "swine flu parties" in the hope they will catch the disease now and build up immunity. Skip related content
Although no firm evidence has emerged of such events taking place, family website mumsnet.com has witnessed discussions over whether parents should take steps to ensure their children acquire immunity before the main flu season in the winter, when some people expect the virus to be more potent.
British Medical Association expert Dr Richard Jarvis warned against taking such an approach.
His warning came the day after news emerged of the first death of a child with swine flu in the UK. Sameerah Ahmad, who had underlying health problems, died at Birmingham Children's Hospital on Friday evening.
She is the third person with swine flu to die in the UK since the start of the outbreak, but it is not yet known if the disease contributed to her death.
The West Midlands has been declared a hotspot for the disease, with 2,104 confirmed cases so far, more than a third of the UK's total and more than two-fifths of all the cases in England.
Mumsnet founder Justine Roberts told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme that she had heard rumours of "swine flu parties" taking place. "There is an awful lot of discussion from people who have come up with a fairly rational conclusion that it might be better to pick this up now, given that we all think it might mutate to a more virulent strain in the winter," she said.
"We have heard of people saying 'Can we come round to your house when you get it?' There's definitely a prevailing view that it might be better to get it now and some people are not despairing if there is a case in their school."
But Dr Jarvis, the chairman of the BMA's public health committee, told Today: "I think parents would want to take into account that the flu - although this particular strain is relatively mild for the most part - is something that will knock people off their feet for a few days and we are seeing appreciable morbidity, severe side-effects and sadly the occasional death.
"My advice to parents would be to take this into account before taking any child along to a flu party."
The 'flu' is a much milder version of ordinary flu and it is not a 'killer'. There are many more deaths from ordinary flu in the UK (1200/annum) and the States (30,000+/annum). The people who have died had other complications as well. Mountains+molehills+paranoia.
"Yes, let's all help this killer illness spread around faster"
I'm trying to work out if that was a joke or if you're trying to imply that there's likely to be a mass wave of death sweeping accross the country sometime soon?
I don't agree with the idea of a flu-party, but it's interesting that the BMA hasn't come out and said that it shouldn't be done, but simply said to take in to account a couple of other considerations.
that it shouldn't be done"
No, it hasn't, but it warns that "we are seeing appreciable morbidity, severe side-effects and sadly the occasional death" which is enough, I would have thought, to deter people from deliberately exposing their children to it.
As for "people who have come up with a fairly rational conclusion that it might be better to pick this up now, given that we all think it might mutate to a more virulent strain in the winter"
I hardly see what's rational about that kind of thinking. It would, as simonjary suggested, help the spread of the virus, and mothers thinking that it might mutate is hardly a rationale for deliberately exposing a young child to something that it might otherwise avoid.
When, not if, it mutates any previous exposure will be valueless, just as it is in the case of the common cold which is mutating constantly.
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