Officials warn against 'measles parties,' say idea that virus harmless based on 'misinformation'

CALIFORNIA -- The California Department of Health issued a statement Monday that many hoped was obvious.

"CDPH strongly recommends against the intentional exposure of children to measles. It unnecessarily places the exposed children at potentially grave risk and could attribute to further spread."

According to the Washington Post, the warning was spurred after a San Francisco woman offered to connect a mother of two unvaccinated children with someone who had measles. The mother said no to the offer, the Post reported.

To this date, there is not any evidence of anyone actually holding a "measles party." However, public officials have received numerous inquiries about the benefits of "natural immunity," rather than the vaccine, the Post reports.

Before the introduction of chicken pox vaccine in 1995, it was common for many parents to host "chicken pox parties" in order for children to fall ill. Even with the vaccine, families continue to host chicken pox parties, the Post reports, that are even advocated in certain natural family living magazines.

Self-infection is even popular on social media, with some advertising mail-order lollipops infected with the chickenpox virus. The start-up was quickly shut down.

Officials warn that while chicken pox is often a mild illness, measles is not. Twenty-eight percent of cases resulted in hospitalization between 2001 and 2013.

“It doesn’t make sense to say I’d rather have my kids get the measles than the measles vaccine,” Art Reingold, the epidemiologist at UC-Berkeley, told the L.A. Times. “That’s based on misinformation that the measles is a benign childhood illness.”