CLL watch and wait, exposure to chicken pox

Hi, I'm in WW, diagnosed 5 years ago, my cell counts around 50, I'm 52, apart from a bout of pneumonia which led to the diagnosis I've not really had any problems so far. I seem to suffer from cold sores more often than i used too but despite having two young kids at school haven't had more flu or colds then usual and sometimes I've even resisted them while the household has gone down around me. Anyway to the point.... I'm about to go back for a family Christmas in UK but have learnt today that one of my nieces has just contracted chicken pox, she'll be within the first 12 days when we are due to stay with them. Is this a bass idea, should I avoid them like the plague. I think I'd had chicken pox as a child, both my children have been vaccinated. So far I've had varying information so I thought I'd awful fellow CLLers. Thanks in advance. Rob

4 Replies

  • Hi Rob, the sentence that concerns me in your post is, 'I think I've had chicken pox as a child' because you're not entirely certain and that could be an issue. There's information in this previous forum discussion (Neil's post) on a test that can be given to check your immunity to chickenpox by looking at immunoglobulin/antibody levels for the varicella virus.

    Obviously for us CLL'ers a shingles activation is a major worry but 'Shingles is less contagious than chicken pox and cannot be passed from person to person. However, the varicella zoster virus can be spread from a person with shingles to someone who has never had chicken pox. The unfortunate recipient might develop chicken pox, but not shingles.'

    It's extremely rare but people can get chicken pox again and it can be pretty nasty in adults. I understand the risk of second contamination is greater if the original chicken pox was a weak strain but that's just my understanding based on reading. Reactivation of the varicella zoster virus would be my biggest worry with immune dysregulation present. Have you consulted your doctor for advice on this?

    I'm sure others with greater knowledge will advise further because I can appreciate this is a difficult decision when family gatherings are involved.

    I wanted to post that link because it contains some important information in order to make your decision. It could be that the infectious period will be over anyway by the time you visit but I can appreciate you not wanting to take risks.



  • Something to consider might be to start a course of a zoster antiviral like Valtrex, acyclovir etc . a week prior to your visit. This suppose you have had chickenpox exposure and most people have by age 52, but not everyone.

    Antivirals do not prevent shingles, but it would limit the reactivation to a great extent.

    If in doubt of chickenpox exposure you should be tested. If you have not ever been exposed, then in my view the visit should be postponed...


  • Hi,

    Thanks for the info, Newdawn I was fairly sure but have had it confirmed now, yes I did. But in any case we are changing the plans a little to minimise it.

    I guess that given I have two children, 5 and 8 both at school and therefore I've no idea or control over who they interact with 5 days a week it's a bit over the top but i've had a couple of different views both from Doctors so I'm playing safe.

    Thanks again


  • Hi Rob

    I had a similar concern when someone in my office had Chicken Pox and at that time I was about to start my treatment. I asked my consultant hematologist and to my surprise she was able to look at my full blood test and confirmed that I had an immunity to chicken pox. I got the answer within minutes of ringing the hospital to pose the question.

    Good luck


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