U.S. Attorney: Mailing Chicken Pox Lollipops Is Illegal, Reckless

November 7, 2011 10:28 a.m.
EDITORS' NOTE: TPM is making our COVID-19 coverage free to all readers during this national health crisis. If you’d like to support TPM's reporters, editors and staff, the best way to do so is to become a member.

It’s come to this: a federal prosecutor is warning parents concerned about vaccinations that mailing a chicken pox lollipop is illegal.

“It’s a serious offense,” U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee Jerry Martin told TPM. “It’s also extremely dangerous.”The Associated Press reports that some parents have turned to a Facebook group — “Find a Pox Party in Your Area” — to connect with people and share the virus through lollipops or other objects that have an infected child’s saliva.

But a Nashville pediatrician says that the virus isn’t likely to survive shipment, unless it’s very fresh and sent very quickly. Martin said mailing a virus could amount to a federal offense, carrying a punishment of anywhere from one year to 20 years in prison. But as a health issue, Martin said it just seems reckless.

“You are dealing with complete strangers,” he said, “so you’re just going to receive a package that purports to be spit from another child and have your child ingest that? It’s not good common sense.”

David Boling, public information officer at the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Middle District of Tennessee, said that various local media reports brought the issue to authorities’ attention.

“Because of the nature of it, the U.S. Attorney thought it was important to make a statement,” Boling told TPM. But Boling did not comment on any investigations that “may or may not” be forthcoming.

Read more here.

(Photo from Keith A. Frith / Shutterstock.)

Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Senior Editor:
Special Projects Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Publishing Associate:
Front-End Developer:
Senior Designer: