the shingles post got me thinking...

  1. Ok after reading the shingles post something popped into my head. If this sounds stupid, I really apologize but I can't seem to find anything about it.

    I know that a person who's never had chicken pox can (and often do) develop a case of chicken pox if they are exposed to a person with shingles.

    My crazy brain started thinking, if shingles can cause an outbreak of chickenpox in someone who's never had the disease, can someone with chicken pox cause an outbreak of shingles in someone who's had chicken pox??

    I am thinking...possibly. Here's why. When a person who's had chicken pox is exposed to someone with chicken pox, they won't develop the disease but their body does go into that "fight" mode with antibodies and such, thus causing stress on the body (maybe not a stress thats noticed by the person, but an internal stress where the body has to do "extra" work in order to maintain homostasis). Shingles normally happens when someone/their body is under the body's new stress cause an outbreak of shingles to someone who is immune system is compromised and they don't know it right at that point in time (body is already fighting off an illness or medications taken are causing an immuniocompromised system)

    Ok..once you stop giggling at my silly question () you think its possible or can anyone point me in a direction that I might find some info on it.
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    About CT Pixie, BSN, RN

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  3. by   Buggus
    I don't think so, or else we would see a million grade-school-aged children with shingles. Because not all kids get chicken pox at the same time, the ones that hadn't gotten it yet would therefore get shingles according to your idea. I remember from Pre-K to 1st grade, there was always someone with chicken pox and the rest of us were fine. I did get shingles when I was in 6th grade due to extreme stress (or so the doctor said) but I had already had chicken pox way before that. And the same goes for when you reverse it: My sister and I both got chicken pox many years ago but when I got shingles, she was fine. But maybe it has happened before? I'm not sure :-P
    Last edit by Buggus on Sep 15, '08
  4. by   Ivanna_Nurse
    Shingles is the re-awakening of the virus living in a dormant state somewhere in the root of a nerve... I would guess if you research antibody and antigen response in regard to exposure... that might take you down the road you are looking for. Good Question though... my wheels are turning so let me know what you find out! ~Cheers, Ivanna
  5. by   SweetTeaRN
    Here's a website that explains the answer very thoroughly...

    But the short answer is, yes, because the two illnesses are both caused by the same virus (Varicella-zoster virus.) As Ivanna mentioned, shingles is caused by a reactivation of the virus which remains dormant in the nerves of people who contracted chickenpox at a previous time in their life. Anything that causes immunosuppression will put a person at risk for developing shingles if they are exposed to someone with active chickenpox. The link I posted mentions that in a healthy person, exposure to chickenpox (in a previously infected individual) may actually provide increased protection against getting shingles. (Because a second exposure to the virus causes increased production of antibodies.) Those with AIDS, the elderly, and chemo-induced immunosuppressed individuals are obviously a few of the population where this booster effect doesn't apply, and actually increases their susceptibility. Hope that helps.