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Measles Parties: Yes, This is a Real Trend—and a Very Dangerous One

The Short of It

Believe it or not, measles parties are a real trend—and a very dangerous one. The California Department of Health is warning parents to stay away from gatherings that intentionally expose children to a disease that can be deadly.

The Lowdown

In the 1950s and '60s, before the MMR vaccine we have today, parties that intentionally exposed people to the measles infection were all the rage. These gruesome get-togethers were thought to build up immunity against the disease.

Now, an outbreak that started at Disneyland in California late last year has infected 121 people in 17 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And not only are the measles back in full effect, so are parties that expose vulnerable children to the disease.

According to a statement, the California Department of Health "strongly recommends against the intentional exposure of children to measles as it unnecessarily places the exposed children at potentially grave risk and could contribute to further spread of the outbreak."

The Upshot

Parents shouldn't underestimate the seriousness of this illness, which is highly contagious. Nine out of 10 unvaccinated people exposed to measles will get sick. The infection can cause pneumonia, swelling of the brain and even death. Children, the elderly and people with preexisting health conditions who can't get vaccinated are most at risk.

The safest way to protect your family is to get vaccinated.

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