Chicken pox

Is it true that being near a child with chicken pox can have a serious affect on someone with pmr. I remember my gp saying something about it when I was first diagnosed almost two years ago. I'm only asking because my sister brought her granddaughter for a visit last week and the little one kept saying she didn't feel well. The next day her gp said that she had chicken pox.

14 Replies

  • Hi

    I have just copied and pasted for you from another post re same question

    Did you have chicken pox yourself as a child? If you did you should be OK in terms of chicken pox itself - the risk when on pred is for people who have never had it and they can catch it. As an adult chicken pox can be nasty and being on pred can make that even worse. Once you have had chicken pox it is very unlikely you would get it again - although it is possible (never say never!).

    What is possible is that it could trigger a case of shingles. After having chicken pox the virus can remain dormant in the nerve endings and then, much later in life, something can wake it up and shingles develops. Whether the body meeting the virus again is enough to do that no one really knows.

    So, on that basis, if you HAVEN'T had chicken pox before - straight off to the doctor to see what he says. There are a couple of options. If you have had it, keep an eye out for any symptoms of shingles - and straight to the doctor if any appear - even any suggestion of it. If caught quickly there are ways of making it much less unpleasant by giving you anti-viral drugs. But that means in the first 24 hours after the symptoms appear - so a visit/phone call now, well in advance, to find out what your GP thinks is a good idea

    Hope it helps


  • Thanks Rose!

  • Just to add to the post Rose copied and pasted - it isn't the PMR that is the problem - it is the pred which suppresses the immune system and so you may not be able to fight it off as well. The problem is greater if you are on high doses for GCA or another immunosuppressant such as methotrexate to try to reduce the pred dose.

    Since you were with her the day before the spots appeared that is the most infectious period so if you haven't had chicken pox as a child do go to your doctor. If you did have chicken pox then if you start to feel unwell in just under 2 or up to 3 weeks time - off to the doctor too. The incubation period is 14-21 days - but I don't think the medications they can give you are of any use until you start to display symptoms - i.e. you can't use them to prevent it developing.

  • Thank you for your replies. I'm quite well at the moment, other than the usual aches and pains we all have. I'm now on 5 ml pred so hopefully my own immune system is/has kicked in to offer more protection from chicken pox virus, but to be on the safe side I will go to gp as a precaution, I don't want to chance being ill over Christmas. I did have chicken pox, measles and most of the other childhood virus's/ infections so hopefully all will be well.

  • I HAVE to add this: in the Daily Mail online today I found the most hilarious article! Apparently - shock horror - mothers in Brisbane are organising CHICKENPOX PARTIES for their children rather than have them vaccinated! This - it seems - is SO dangerous because chickenpox is potentially fatal.

    Well it is - for immunocompromised people who haven't had it before and I'm not dismissing that at all. However - how many of us were sent to play with the child next door/down the street/our cousins when they had chickenpox?

  • Don't know if viruses have mutated to being much nastier now, but we were sent to play with others who had it and so was my daughter. These were just run of the mill childhood illnesses and we caught them, were ill for a week or two and recovered, hopefully with some immunity. Kids seemed more robust then.

  • I've never had chicken pox, despite two of my children having it (at separate times years apart and the third never did). Have idly wondered if I should ask about the vaccine, or at least to be tested to confirm that I'm really immune.

  • When my younger daughter caught it I deliberately exposed her to her cousin - we were staying with them on holiday so it could have been avoided. Later we saw the other lot of cousins - and did ask whether they wanted to mix with her. Their mum said one had had it, the other had been exposed umpteen times and never got it, she must be immune. Needless to say, 2 weeks later she came out in spots!

    I was surprised though, I'd had it as a child but apparently my brother hadn't - and neither had my mother-in-law! So they were a bit worried. My brother didn't get it then despite being with her the day the first spot appeared, which is when you are most infectious but did catch it from a work-colleague a couple of years later. He was really quite ill for 3 weeks - at least it wasn't my fault!

  • Well that's cheerful - your poor brother! Glad I decided not to volunteer at the local school - had been thinking more about avoiding endless colds as kids are nothing if not little germ factories, but hadn't considered chickenpox might be a workplace hazard.

  • Do they vaccinate against CP in Canada? They don't in the UK - the official line is it is a mild infection for all normal children, under normal circumstances 90% of UK children will catch CP and develop immunity that way, which is far better than you can achieve with the vaccine at some 75%. So they keep it for people who are at risk - whose immune system is poor or who are on medication that suppresses it.

    But even then, it is not certain they won't catch it at school or even on the bus - it's highly infectious in the 24 hours before the spots appear and until the rash the symptoms could be a perfectly normal cold. As you say - small children are proper germ factories. It's how their immune system develops.


    No chickenpox but it looks like I should be considering the MMR and the pneumonia ones, although I have often heard pneumonia referred to as the old man's friend and who would not rather die quickly of pneumonia (or even influenza) than linger with dementia or cancer etc?

  • Definitely - David's had his pneumonia shot as he has seriously dodgy lungs anyway. No-one has suggested it for me yet - obviously I look fairly healthy!

  • My husband used to get a bout of pneumonia regularly - in May, allergy season. But never since he had the shot several years ago.

  • That's interesting - was worth it then! It took 6 months for David's to clear up! Bit scary when things kept appearing on x-rays...

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