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Swine Flu Parties


'Swine flu parties' to boost immunity a bad idea, US official says
From correspondents in Washington

A US health official recommends that you cancel plans for that "swine flu party".

A swine flu party is a gathering intended to pass on infection of the A(H1N1) flu virus as protection against a future more virulent strain.

The idea for "swine flu parties", which reportedly first surfaced on specialty internet sites, comes from "chickenpox parties'', where sick children infect healthy ones with the chickenpox virus.

Parents who do this usually oppose vaccinating their children, or want them to have stronger immunity against more virulent strains.

US health officials fear that the unpredictable and potentially deadly A(H1N1) flu virus could mutate and appear as a more virulent, drug-resistant strain later in the year.

However having a "swine flu party'' is "a big mistake'', said Richard Besser, the acting head of the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"This is a new, emerging infection and we're learning more about it each day,'' Mr Besser said.

"But how an individual person will be impacted by the infection is not something that we know,'' Besser said today.

"It's a big mistake putting individuals and children at risk, and the CDC does not recommend that people follow that course,'' he said.

The World Health Organisation reports 2,099 cases of influenza A(H1N1) infections in 23 countries.

The virus up to now has killed 44 people in Mexico and two in the US

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