A federal prosecutor is warning parents against trading chicken pox-laced lollipops by mail in what authorities describe as misguided attempts to expose their children to the virus to build immunity later in life.
The warning came after media reports surfaced about a multi-state ring of parents, wary of vaccinations that prevent the disease, who were swapping lollipops licked by a sick child in a modern day incarnation of a chicken pox party.
"Sending a virus or disease through the US mail (and private carriers) is illegal. It doesn't matter if it crosses state lines," said David Boling, public information officer for the Attorney in Nashville.
"Also, it is against federal law to adulterate or tamper with consumer products, such as candy."
Boling said the issue came to light after a television "news report out of Phoenix that involved a Nashville woman that was shipping and receiving adulterated products."
Sending chicken pox-infected lollipops, swabs or vials of saliva to parents who want to infect their children and avoid vaccinations is not only illegal, it can be lethal, said Dr. Tim Jones, Tennessee's state epidemiologist.