Can I be a chicken pox carrier?
March 9, 2010 12:04 AM   Subscribe

My daughter has just has just come out in chicken pox. I had it as a kid so immune however is it still safe for me to go into the office at work?

Google has lots of conflicting answers and the best I've come up with so far is as long as I wash my hands throughly incase I've got any pus etc on my hands then I should be fine to carry on my normal daily adult life.
posted by rus to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I research pediatric viral infections including herpesviruses (chickenpox = human herpes virus 3) for a living, but IANAD. I talked about chickenpox transmission to a senior research immunologist at work, as well as the administering nurse when I had to get a varicella immunization. From what I remember, indirect transmission through an immune carrier (like you) has never been documented.
posted by halogen at 12:29 AM on March 9, 2010 [3 favorites]

In searching I didn't come across the answer to your question but I did read this which I'd never heard before (from a book published in 2000) which seems worth mentioning:
Caution: Because recent information indicates an association among aspirin, chicken pox, and a rare but serious problem of the liver and brain known as Reye syndrom, aspirin and other NSAIDS should never be given to children or teenagers who may have chicken pox or influenza.
posted by XMLicious at 12:58 AM on March 9, 2010

I'm sorry, my answer above is not particularly clear: what I noted does not necessarily mean that the virus cannot be transmitted through another vector, like contaminated objects.

However, transmission through contaminated objects is highly unlikely in immunonormal individuals: the human virology book I have on hand goes as far as to say that it doesn't occur, period.
posted by halogen at 12:59 AM on March 9, 2010

I am not a doctor, but my mother is one (a public health physician), and I've been through some issues with the pox due to having small children, and that my wife did not have the pox as a child, so is possibly at risk. So I've tapped my mother for her expert advice on this issue in the past (usual legal disclaimers reply, I will not be responsible if you chose a particular course of action based on this advice yadda yadda yadda ...)

Wash your hands when you leave the house, you'll be fine is my considered answer based on the above information.
posted by singingfish at 2:15 AM on March 9, 2010

Go to work.
posted by caddis at 3:43 AM on March 9, 2010

I did not have chicken pox as a kid. My children were exposed and two got it. I did a lot of asking of medical professionals about my risks. I would be comfortable with you coming to work if I were your coworker.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 4:46 AM on March 9, 2010

I agree with all of the above opinions, but wanted to add that if you happen to find out in talking about this at work that you have co-workers who are still vulnerable to it, you might mention that they can and should get the vaccine against chickenpox just as a general preventative measure (not because they're likely to get it through you). It is routinely given to children but is also fine for adults who never had chickenpox as kids.
posted by lakeroon at 8:13 AM on March 9, 2010

Just to add on to lakeroon's comment, it's pretty important for women to have their chickenpox immunity status determined, preferably well before they want to have children. (if they're considering it) Pregnancy and chickenpox don't mix well. Many 30+ people don't have immunity, and a vaccine didn't exist when they were children. Some doctors would like people to start considering "pre-prenatal" exams. Once pregnant, vaccines shouldn't be administered, so early determination of immunity is key, which can be done through antibody titers with a blood sample.

Could be an opportunity to spread some positive vaccine knowledge around the office.
posted by fontophilic at 9:25 AM on March 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

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