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Forum Name: Viral Infections

Question: Chicken pox and shingles


 mamaboys321 - Thu Nov 13, 2008 1:43 pm

Can a 65 year old who has had chicken pox cause the virus to reactivate into shingles by caring for children who have chicken pox?

Does that make sense? Will/can active chicken pox in one person cause another person who has already had them acquire shingles? Are they at increased risk for shingles if they are caring for someone who has chicken pox?
 Dr. Chan Lowe - Thu Nov 13, 2008 11:24 pm

User avatar Hello Mamaboys321,

This is a good question. Once a person has had chicken pox, the varicella virus never actually leaves the body. Instead, it becomes dormant because the immune system essentially fights it down until it hides away. Shingles occurs when the virus subsequently reactivates. The virus hides in the nerve roots. When it reactivates, it follows the nerves and causes blisters to form in the distribution of that nerve.

Shingles tends to occur when the immune system is weakened for some reason. It is not a "reinfection" with the virus again. So, being exposed to chicken pox again would not be expected to be significantly affected by this.

There is likely to not be any significant danger from being re-exposed to the chicken pox virus. If, however, there were a reason for his immune system to be weakened there is a chance that he would develop shingles.

I hope this helps.

Best wishes.

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