I’ve run into an interesting ethical conundrum involving Molluscum contagiosum. It’s a viral infection common among kids, where a pox-family virus causes little pale warts that usually remain from six to nine months. Once the last lesion is gone you seem to become resistant, and the complaint is rare in adults. According to Wikipedia, 17% of kids go through it, mostly between the ages of 2 and 12. There’s no antiviral treatment: usually nothing is done about molluscum as removal involves the same regimen of soaking, mechanical scrubbing and mild corrosive agents as for warts, only you have tens or hundreds of them instead of a single one.
Molluscum is painless but contagious and a little ugly: typically the parents will mind it more than the child does. My son picked it up at daycare and eventually passed it on to his kid sister. Yesterday our excellent neighbour from Korea put her kid and mine in the bathtub after they had gotten themselves grimy. When she discovered the molluscum she was pretty disturbed, never having seen it before.
If I really wanted to make sure that my kids don’t spread the virus I’d have to home-school them (which is illegal in Sweden) and keep them from other children for a year. But daycare centres and schools don’t care at all about molluscum and impose no restrictions.
Dear Reader, what is my responsibility here? I’d really rather not tell every new parent I meet that my kid has a contagious skin condition that sticks for months, “But don’t worry, it’s harmless. Wanna come over to our place and play?” And I note that nobody (not even 17%) has ever said that to me.
The kid in the pic ain’t mine, I lifted it off Google.