Parents who think that they can avoid the necessity of vaccinating their kids against chicken pox by intentionally exposing them to the disease might want to think again. According to the Associated Press, Tennessee attorney Jerry Miller warns that shipment of materials believed to be infected with chicken pox breaks the same laws that prohibit the transport of anthrax and other prospective biological weapons.

According to a report by WSMV-TV in Nashville, some parents believe that they can circumvent the need for certain vaccines by giving their children lollipops, spit, or other materials belonging to children with chicken pox. The hope is that the child will develop the disease and thus acquire a natural lifetime immunity.

The TV station found a Facebook group dedicated to the practice and investigated. State prosecutor Miller saw the report and took action, releasing a statement that it is a federal crime to send disease agents through the mail, one that could be punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

The AP article quotes Dr. Isaac Thomsen, a specialist in pediatric contagious diseases at Vanderbilt hospital as saying that mailing contaminated candy could only work "If there's a very high load on the virus and shipped very quickly...But it's probably not an effective way to transmit it. It typically has to be inhaled."

Other more serious diseases, however, like measles and hepatitis can be transmitted by these so-called "Pox Parties", exposing children to serious risk.

Martin says that parents engaging in these types of behaviors are not only endangering their children's health and their own, but also risking prosecution for federal crimes.

image via Every Day a Photo at Flickr Commoms