CLL Support Association

Chicken pox outbreak - wish me luck!

Have come home from work to 3 poorly children with chicken pox - they've all been immunised so they're not suffering too much but I'm popping my anti-vitals and hoping I don't catch it. Not much I can do to avoid it I'm afraid so keep your fingers crossed for me - have never had shingles but I hear it's horrible! Don't think my neuts are too low at the moment so will just have to hope for the best.

7 Replies

anti-vitals - now that's an interesting autocorrect - thank goodness they're anti-virals!


I work with very young children and chicken pox is everywhere at the moment, I have had chicken pox as a child and don't think I can catch it again also can you catch shingles from chicken pox?, what anti virals do you take? Maybe I should get some , I am in England , do you buy them over the counter or are they from the doctor, good luck with looking after three children all at once, I remember when my three had chicken pox, as soon as one recovered another went down with it then another , I ended up stir crazy of not going out for about a month, happy days😬😬😷😷


Thanks! I'm on Valtrex, have been since I had FCR - acyclovir is the other one I think you can take - you need to get it from your GP but I have no idea if it will help me avoid chicken pox but can't hurt.


Excellent organisation again Deb; you should be fine!


Excellent organisation Deb - having your children immunised and having them go through chickenpox before you have your planned treatment and are at greater risk from your lowered immune system. :) Yes it's a miserable illness and can be worse if you get it as an adult. Hopefully your children will soon be over it and you won't succumb.

The virus that causes chickenpox in children hides away in your nerve cells for the rest of your life. I'm not sure if we know what triggers it to reactivate as shingles, but obviously you are more at risk if your immune system is impaired by CLL or immuno-chemotherapy treatment.

9876 and Deb, you'd best see your GP or possibly your haematologist regarding what to do and whether you should have antivirals on hand.

The NHS article I've linked to below mentions a blood test you can have to check if you have immunity to chickenpox. That would be a measurement of your immunoglobulin/antibody levels for the varicella virus. Talk to your doctor about having that test done on the basis of your CLL diagnosis and exposure to chicken pox.

Antivirals are expensive and in Australia you have the choice of having a script on hand (which you need to renew yearly) and pay several hundred dollars for it, OR you can present to your doctor when you have shingles and then get it prescribed on the PBS at a subsidised price. I don't know what the situation is in the UK.

From the Chickenpox section of the UK's NHS Choices:

"Chickenpox is infectious from one to two days before the rash starts, until all the blisters have crusted over (usually five to six days after the start of the rash).


Adults with chickenpox (and shingles - Neil) may benefit from taking antiviral medicine if treatment is started early in the course of the illness. Read more about antivirals in the treatment of chickenpox:


...People with a weakened immune system ... should seek medical advice as soon as they are exposed to the chickenpox virus or they develop chickenpox symptoms


It's possible to catch chickenpox from someone with shingles, but not the other way around."

And from the US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NCBI):

"Chickenpox spreads easily. It is most contagious on the day before the rash appears.

It spreads from person to person through direct contact with the virus. You can get chickenpox if you touch a blister or the liquid from a blister. You can also get chickenpox if you touch the saliva of a person who has chickenpox. The virus enters the body by the nose or mouth and can make you sick, too.

It can also be spread to you through the air if you are near someone with chickenpox who is coughing or sneezing."

Johns Hopkins:

Try not to touch your eyes, nose and mouth with your hands, take particular care with hand washing and consider wearing N95 facial masks if you are worried that you don't have immunity.


1 like

Thanks for all that Neil - my poor 10 year old is very miserable, one of the childhood rights of passage. I feel safer on the Valtrex - I have a permanent prescription which costs me about $40 AUD a month on the PBS. I normally take 1 a day but am taking 2 a day just to be safe at the moment. Will be a good test of my immune system if I get through the next couple of weeks without catching it! Interesting about not being able to catch shingles from chicken pox - I didn't know that.


Hi Deb

If you have had chicken pox, then it is in you... already!

Chicken Pox and all other Herpes viruses, live in us for our lifetime... up in the nerves under our brains... ya really...

When the CD4+ T cell counts drop... like during treatment, the Zoster virus, runs down a nerve and starts to invade skin cells to breed... hence Shingles.

Antivirals like Valtex, don't prevent anything... however they mess with the Zoster RNA, preventing and limiting the spred of Zoster virus reproduction...



You may also like...