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Don’t throw “swine flu parties”, warn doctors

1 July 2009

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Throwing “swine flu parties” in an attempt to get immunity against the virus while it is a fairly mild form is not a good idea, the British Medical Association (BMA) said today (1 July 2009).

The BMA says reports have emerged of people intentionally mixing with friends who have swine flu. The reasoning behind this is that it is best to be infected before the winter when the virus could become more deadly.

Dr Colin Hamilton, Chairman of the public health committee for the BMA in Northern Ireland, said such behaviour could undermine the fight against swine flu.

“I have heard of reports of people throwing swine flu parties and I don’t think it is a good idea,” he said. “I would not want it myself.”

Dr Hamilton said that while the H1N1 virus is currently a mild flu, by hosting “swine flu parties” parents would still be putting their health and the health of their children at risk, and that there is still a risk of mortality.

“The virus has only been known for two months and is still an unknown quantity,” he said. “Our advice remains that people should avoid contracting it as much as possible until vaccines are produced. The idea of having a flu party is the complete opposite to this advice.”

Many children may have conditions unknown to their parents, he added, which would make them especially vulnerable.