Posts Tagged ‘chicken pox’

Join the blog-a-thon for NIIW

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

niiw-blog-a-thon-badgeThis week is National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), a time to talk about vaccines.

Do you remember mumps? How about chicken pox? For so many children, these are diseases they never had or will never get. But I remember them well – the incredible pain and swelling from mumps, the constant itching and scars from chicken pox, not to mention the many days of school that I missed. I knew kids who were hospitalized due to complications from both mumps and chickenpox.

Even my kids had chicken pox – one more severely than the other – as the vaccine was not yet available. How I wish they could have avoided that disease!

Rotavirus is another potentially very serious condition that most babies and children can avoid today. My daughter ended up in the hospital for two days due to complications from rotavirus – a very scary experience!

But perhaps the one that hits home the most for me is polio. The March of Dimes would not be here if it were not for this devastating disease. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt contracted this paralyzing disease, he called on our organization to raise money in order to fund research to develop a vaccine. The March of Dimes is named for the dimes that were “marched” to Washington from countless people to fund research into finding a vaccine in time to spare any more men, women, children and babies from getting this crippling disease.

We were successful. The polio vaccine was rolled out to the public in 1955 as a result of the pioneering work of March of Dimes’ funded researchers Drs. Salk and Sabin.

Due to the development of this vaccine, polio is practically a part of world history. It no longer exists in America, and is almost totally eradicated in other parts of the world. When you stop to think about it, that is really AMAZING. This little vaccine prevents lifelong paralysis and pain in millions of people.

What started with combating polio has led March of Dimes to continue working hard to ensure all babies get a fighting chance for a healthy start in life.

But vaccines are not just for babies

As important as it is for babies and children to receive their vaccines, it’s also critical that adults who come in contact with children stay up-to-date with immunizations. For example, pertussis (whooping cough) can be fatal for a baby. When parents and caretakers get the vaccine, they are ensuring that their baby will be protected until he is old enough to be immunized. In fact, it is so important to get this vaccine that all pregnant women are recommended to receive the Tdap vaccine during each pregnancy.

There’s no doubt about it -even adults need vaccines. And women need them before, during and after pregnancy.

It would be a very different world without the lifesaving vaccines that have spared us from so many diseases. NIIW is a time to highlight the importance of protecting babies and children from vaccine-preventable diseases and to celebrate the achievements of immunization programs in the U.S.

We’re a healthier nation and world because of them.

Please share your support for childhood immunizations by participating in this week’s blog-a-thon. Here are the details.

 

Chickenpox, vaccinations and Angelina Jolie

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

VaccineAngelina Jolie coming down with chickenpox is a good reminder for all of us to keep our vaccinations up to date! Chickenpox, also called varicella, is caused by a virus. Its symptoms include an itchy rash, blisters and fever. And before the varicella vaccine, people usually got chickenpox during childhood. Now, most kids get the vaccine in the first few years of life.

As a kid, I remember getting chickenpox along with several others in my kindergarten class. And as itchy and uncomfortable as I was, I still didn’t get it as bad as my little sister did years later – in fact, she got it twice, but that’s rare! Come to think of it, my sister was slammed three times by the virus when she got shingles last year. That’s right – the virus that causes chickenpox can also cause shingles later in life.

For most of us who were “lucky” enough to catch chickenpox in childhood, we probably don’t have to worry about getting chickenpox in adulthood, like Mrs. Pitt. But if you’ve never had chickenpox or aren’t sure, talk to your provider about getting the varicella vaccine, especially if you’re thinking about getting pregnant. Having chickenpox during pregnancy may cause some babies to get congenital varicella syndrome, a group of birth defects. Not all vaccinations are safe to get during pregnancy, so it’s best to get the varicella vaccine before getting pregnant.

In the meantime, here’s hoping Angelina has a speedy recovery!

Shingles exposure during pregnancy

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

pregnant-womanEvery so often we get a question from a pregnant woman who is concerned because someone in her family (usually a parent or in-law) has shingles. She is worried that she may be at-risk to develop this as well. Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox– the varicella zoster virus (VZV). Once you have had chickenpox, this virus continues to live dormant, inside your body. Sometimes, under conditions of stress or when the immune system is weakened, the virus can be reactivated. When this happens the virus does not cause chickenpox but shingles.

Almost 1 out of every 3 people in the United States will develop shingles. Anyone who has had chickenpox may develop shingles, including pregnant women and even children. But about half of all cases actually occur among people 60 years old or older. There is now a vaccine available for people over age 60 to prevent shingles.

The varicella zoster virus can only be spread by an affected person to someone who has NOT had chickenpox. If this happens, the exposed person will develop chickenpox—not shingles.  Once you have had chickenpox, antibodies are in your system and you cannot get it again, but you will have the potential to develop shingles.

You cannot catch shingles from someone who has shingles. You can, however, catch chickenpox from someone who has shingles. If you are not immune to the varicella zoster virus and you are exposed to someone who has shingles there is a very small chance that you could develop chickenpox. Shingles is not spread through the air and infection can only occur after direct contact with the rash when it is in the blister-phase. A person with shingles is not contagious before the blisters appear or after they scab over.

If you have been exposed to someone with shingles, and you have not had chickenpox or the vaccine, make sure you talk to your health care provider. Shingles is less contagious than chickenpox and the risk of a person with shingles spreading the virus is low if the rash is covered.

Remember, if you have had chickenpox, it is possible to develop shingles during pregnancy. If you do develop shingles, make sure you contact your health care provider right away. The most common symptom is a painful rash on one side of the face or body. The rash forms blisters that typically scab over in 7–10 days and clear up within 2–4 weeks. There is often pain, itching, or tingling in the area where the rash will develop.

Shingles can be quite painful but treatments with antiviral medications are available. These can lessen the severity and reduce the discomforts. And, for women who do develop shingles during pregnancy, the prognosis is good.

Did you know that children can get shingles, too? See our post on shingles, pregnancy and children for more info.

 

(Updated 6/6/17)

Chickenpox – vaccination works

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Chickenpox, or varicella, is a childhood illness that can pose risks to the fetus if a mother contracts it during pregnancy, especially during her first 20 weeks. Congenital varicella syndrome, though rare, can include defects of muscle and bone, malformed or paralyzed limbs, a smaller-than-normal head, blindness, seizures, intellectual disability. Varicella has lead to death in some children.

Varicella has been preventable by vaccination in the United States since 1995. More than 90 percent of pregnant women are immune to chickenpox because they either had chickenpox before pregnancy or were vaccinated as children. Women who are immune to chickenpox cannot become infected and do not need to be concerned about it during pregnancy.  However, many women do not know whether they had chickenpox in the past or have misplaced their immunization records. Pregnant women should discuss this illness with their health care provider during their first prenatal visit.

Before the vaccine was approved in 1995, about 150 people a year died from the disease and 11,000 were hospitalized, according to Jane Seward of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A report from the CDC in the July 25th edition of Pediatrics says that chickenpox is close to being eliminated all together. In studying just mortality rates, “in the last 6 years analyzed, a total of 3 deaths per age range were reported, compared with an annual average of 13 and 16 deaths, respectively, during the prevaccine years.”

An impressive 88% decline in varicella deaths in the first 12 years can be directly attributed to successful implementation of the 1-dose vaccination program. “With the current 2-dose program (in effect since in 2006), there is potential that these most severe outcomes of a vaccine-preventable disease could be eliminated.” Eliminated. No more. Gone. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Vaccines before pregnancy

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

At a checkup before pregnancy, your provider can do a blood test to find out if you’re immune to certain illnesses such as rubella (German measles) and chickenpox. If you’re not, you can safely be vaccinated before pregnancy. After you’re vaccinated, you should wait for one month before trying to conceive. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend these vaccines during pregnancy.

A while back I wrote a post about my “before-baby” check up. I discovered that my immunity to chickenpox was borderline so I received a booster. I always assumed I was immune because I had the chicken pox as a kid. I’m so glad I got that shot! A few months later I was exposed to a friend’s daughter who had the illness and I was newly pregnant.

Annual check-up

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

A few weeks ago I went for an annual visit with my nurse-midwife, Lucy. Once I told her that my husband and I were thinking about having a baby within a year or so she immediately perked up and asked, “besides an annual, this is a preconception visit”? To which I replied, yes and reminded myself to breathe.

So I had the usual exam, but with an added and lengthy interview about our family medical history, nutrition and exercise. Lucy ordered some extra blood work that would test for immunity to certain childhood illnesses. She wrote a prescription for prenatal vitamins, wished me well and said, “call me when you get pregnant”.

A few days later I received a call. Even though I had the chicken pox as a kid, my blood work showed that my immunity was border line and she recommended that I get the vaccine just to be on the safe side. If a woman catches chickenpox during pregnancy, there can be serious consequences to the baby, depending on when in pregnancy the infection occurs. Experts recommend that a newly vaccinated woman wait at least one month before trying to get pregnant.

If you’re thinking about having a baby now’s the best time to schedule a check-up. Even if you’re not planning to get pregnant right away, it’s never too soon to get yourself in shape for motherhood.