Chicken Pox


I am a significant part of my daughter's childcare arrangements and often look after my 2 year old grandson. My daughter has just phoned in some distress because she is also 5 months pregnant, to say that Theo has got chicken pox. He has been feverish and off colour for a couple of weeks and has now broken out in the typical spots of chicken pox. I have been looking after him a lot lately. I have PMR and am currently on 10 mgs of Prednisalone reduced from 20 mgs. Since March this year. The last thing I want to do is back out of childcare and add to her stress ( she holds down a managerial job). I have been exposed to chicken pox over the years but have never caught it. Including my own children who all got it. Given that I have been intimately exposed to him, I'm thinking that it's too late anyway. However, I am aware that I have a compromised immune system and should therefore avoid chicken pox. In short, can anyone tell me the risks etc. I don't really know what to do. I love my times with him, they are often all that keeps me going. I don't really mind a risk oh Lord what should I do, if anything?

12 Replies

  • Hi Sheffieldjane, the blue steroid card that I was given says that if you have never had chickenpox, you should avoid close contact. Also if you come into contact with chickenpox, contact your Doctor. With this information in mind and if it were me, I would give your surgery a ring for advice. Others may be able to advise you why we 'PMR' sufferers need to take these precautions.

    Kind regards , Jane

  • Thanks Jane57, I am awaiting a call- back from my GP. Now I need advice on how to peel a stressed out furious daughter from the ceiling and how to stop driving her crazy with everything I say or do.😕

  • Hi SheffieldJane. It does sound as though you may have had chickenpox in a very mild way or maybe before you were old enough to remember.

    Has anyone mentioned that your daughter's unborn baby may catch it? I suggest she has a chat with her midwife.

  • Yes they have mentioned the risks to her unborn child and she's very worried. However her immunity has been tested and found to be good for Chicken pox.

  • Does it really matter what the risks are at this stage? You have almost certainly been exposed to him so work from there! It is pretty likely you did have CP as a small child, the vast majority of our generation did, although it may not have been obvious.

    Keep a close eye on yourself and if in 14-21 days from when you were exposed to Theo you start to develop signs THEN your GP should give you antiviral medication immediately to reduce the extent and duration of the illness. According to the literature, that does NOT work as a prophylactic (preventative measure) so there is no point starting it now. They can give immunoglobulin but it is rarely done except for people who have REALLY suppressed immune systems and we don't really come into that classification.

    Theo was at his most infectious in the 48 hours before the first spots appeared. He will be infectious until the last spot has scabbed over - but decreasingly so, the worst period then is the 5 days after the first spot.

    Why is your daughter furious? And has she had CP herself?

  • Yes, all my children had mild chicken pox I can remember dotting them with calamine lotion.

  • Hi PMRPro - on this subject of PMR sufferers and chicken pox exposure - does this apply to shingles also?

    We're due to see friends shortly, one of whom appears to have been diagnosed with shingles whilst on holiday recently.

    Frankly, I've no idea whether or not I had chicken pox as a child so I'm treating this invitation with caution, tho' I don't wish to appear rude (or ignorant!).....

  • Apparently, while theoretically it is possible for someone who hasn't had CP in the past to catch it from someone with shingles - practically it is pretty much unheard of. You would have to have very close contact with the uncovered and weeping rash - with shingles they aren't shedding virus every time they sneeze as you are with CP. If the rash is covered - you should be fine and it is almost always around the waist so it being winter, it will be!

    You can't "catch" shingles - it is a reactivation of the dormant virus which has remained in nerve endings in the body after the person recovered from CP in childhood.

    If you are on pred and develop any signs of shingles - yes, the same thing applies, speedy treatment with an antiviral drug will shorten the course of the illness.

  • Thank you PMRpro, That is really clear advice. As for my daughter, we'll have you got one? I seem to put my foot in it whatever I say or do. I think basically she's exhausted, pregnant, with a bright enquiring two year old, a stressful job and mums are a safe place to vent. Maybe, just maybe I should engage brain a bit more before I utter and also realise that she's my little girl and is probably in more need of cuddles than Theo. Ho hum.

  • I have two of the little darlings! One never argues with her parents now - the other? Ah well! You may have seen her all over the papers earlier in the summer after helping fish a young woman out of the Thames by holding on to her until the RNLI arrived. She could have been killed herself had she slipped and fallen in herself. Act first and think (much) later is her motto!

    Hmm - have you mentioned cake and eating it or something? I really don't feel stressful managerial jobs, pregnancy and small children mix very well! They may not be mutually exclusive - but something has to give somewhere doesn't it?

  • You must be very proud of your brave, if head strong girl and your easy going one too of course.

    I was always a working mum through financial necessity, I'm much more placid than my feisty girls though, more polite and grateful, they are everything I daren't be. Hurrah for the adventures my DNA has.

    Mind you since Prednisalone I have been known to get my claws out and swipe usually towards my long suffering other half.

    Can I take this opportunity to thank you for your wisdom, patience and knowledge that elevates this forum to a very special place. I hope you have a happy peaceful Christmas and a really lovely 2017.

  • Thank you Jane - that is very kind of you. You are the second person today to tell me I'm patient! This must be some sort of reincarnation - 'cos patient is not normally a word I'd associate with me!!!! ;-)

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