|Geann Pineda |||Feb 09, 2015 10:17 PM EST|
(Photo : Reuters) A measles vaccine is seen at Venice Family Clinic in Los Angeles, California February 5, 2015.
Health officials are warning parents against "measles parties" that could put their children at high risk of getting the infection.
The California Department of Public Health has strongly advised parents not to intentionally expose their children to measles, so as not to place them at grave risk and to prevent the further spread of the disease.
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Some parents in California are reportedly hosting measles parties, where unvaccinated children are exposed to infected ones to build up their immunity to the virus.
The measles parties became popular in the 1950's and the 1960's, before the Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine was introduced.
Despite the availability of vaccines, the practice persisted among parents who are skeptical on following the recommended immunization schedule.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly discouraged the practice, saying it is particularly dangerous to children below five. The agency said, it may even cause pneumonia, brain swelling and worst, death.
"This is like the Middle Ages, when people deliberately infected themselves with smallpox. It's vigilante vaccination - you know, taking immunity into your own hands." Dr. Anne Moscona, flu specialist at Cornell University told the New York Times.
Measles has been tagged by health experts as among the most contagious disease in the world.
The rapid spread of the disease has affected most children who failed to get immunized.
Initial symptoms include, runny nose, watery eyes, sensitivity to light, fever, tiredness, body aches and dry cough.
The CDC's most recent data revealed, there are 121 confirmed measles cases in 17 states since Jan. 1. Health officials believe the most recent outbreak was linked to a group of unvaccinated people who recently visited Disneyland in California.
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