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Chicken pox/ Shingles MS
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Chicken pox/ Shingles MS

My son has been sent home for college with suspected chiken pox.

I have had chicken pox when I was 18. I'm a bit concerned as I read somewhere a connection between MS and shingles, does any know if I'm right to be concerned?

Thanks
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14 Comments Post a Comment
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There is some evidence that shingles, chicken pox, and EBV may be "Viral Triggers" that can set off MS in susceptible individuals.

Not being mean, but there is nothing that can be done if he is a susceptible person.  You/He can not change his susceptibility nor can you prevent exposure to viral triggers.  You can make sure he keeps his D and B12 levels up and eats a healthy diet.  That is about it.

Bob
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Bob, do you remember where you read that evidence that chicken pox and shingles may be viral triggers? I've read about EBV many times, but not the others.

I know that these are herpes viruses, and that after chicken pox, the virus lies dormant in the nerves permanently after that. I know that an attack of shingles reawakens the virus and can cause great pain and suffering.

I had chicken pox as a toddler, and shingles in 1995. I've never had mono, though no doubt I carry the virus, as virtually everyone does.

What I'd like to know is the thinking behind the idea that somehow the herpes part can trigger MS. Is it because of the nervouse system link?

Please elaborate. Thanks.

ess
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on the flip side if you are concerned about being exposed to the shingles .......

I just heard a doctor challenge the shingles/MS connection and he said there was no evidence that PwMS were more susceptible to shingles.

Interesting, because my student trainer was just treated for shingles about the time I had my atypical relapse - we were both on steroids.  

I'll try hard to remember where I heard the shingles comment and post it when I do!
Lulu
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Since the chicken pox vaccine has only been available in the US since 1995 it seems likely that most people presently diagnosed with MS have been exposed.  If almost everyone carries EBV, how much more so for the VZV (Varicella-zoster virus) of chicken pox and shingles?  

I'd be interested to hear how any connection to MS can be proven.  It would seem there are two groups.  People with VZV who have MS.  People with VZV who don't have MS.

Lulu, I think it is people who are immunosuppressed that are at a higher risk for shingles.  That doesn't include us (not even when taking immunomodulator drugs) UNLESS we're on steroids.  People taking high dose or long term steroids should stay as far away from germs and viruses as possible.  ALWAYS.

Twist, I'm not sure what your concern is?  You have had chicken pox.  It's highly unlikely you would get them again.  It is possible you'll have shingles some day but your son's chicken pox won't reactivate your VZV.  There is a shingles vaccine.  It is available for people over 60 with a history of chicken pox.

Keep this in mind though.  If you ever do get shingles it is entirely possible to infect a contact person with chicken pox.  My kids had been exposed to peers with pox but never got their own.  After living with shingled Dad for two weeks --- pox for everyone.

Good luck to you mom-nursing that boy back to wellness.  What a lousy time to be sent home!  I hope he isn't missing exams.  I think a lot of colleges are requiring the chicken pox vaccine these days.  Guess he won't need that anymore.  Only one thing left now....
calamine and mittens.

Mary
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One quick but important comment---

The shingles vaccine is a LIVE virus and thus should NOT be given to MSers. No live viruses should.

ess
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Thanks for getting me around to re-thinking this Ess.  I'd hate to steer anyone, including myself (!) down a tortuous path.  I did find an old discussion (like 2 years ago) about this vaccine on our forum and have revived the question there.  I'll raise the question with my MSologist when I'm in his office Monday.

Since both these topics will soon scroll out of sight, anyone else interested in the discussion can pick it up here:
http://www.medhelp.org/posts/Multiple-Sclerosis/What-have-you-read-about-MS-and-the-Shingles-Vaccine/show/1108982

Mary

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Well DS is home and it's not chicken pox's but I'm not sure what its. The spots look like chicken pox's but with out the blister and they are only on his body and neck. he does not feel ill at all. But he can't go back till the Dr says it's not contagious.

Any ideas?

I think I had read on the www some where that people with MS were more proned to shingle hence my concern. The theory seemed to e based around the fact the were both to do with the nervous system.

Incidently I had never heard of vaccines agaist chicken pox's or shingle's here in the UK.
Thanks all

Twist
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Hi Twist

I wonder what the doctor is doing to find out what your son's rash is and I would encourage you to ensure that further investigations are done (I assume that he has had normal blood test done?)

I have had all the major childhood illnesses and have had shingles twice as an adult, Epstein Barr and real measles at the age of 18 and 42. The second time I had measles my GP failed to diagnose it (as she said she had never seen a case as it was virtually wiped out in UK and that it was highly unlikely I wd get it twice).  Wrong...I was determined to get to the bottom of it but I felt so ill I had to findout what it was.... and on second blood tests it showed up clearly.

Your son may just have a non specific virus but I think there is a rare illness called pleva that has similar spots. Also without being rude..has he been anywhere near animals and is there a chance they could be fleabites or bed bugs?

Not sure what else to suggest but I am always interested in the discussion about immune illnesses making one more susceptible to MS as in my case I am 100% certain that this is the case but no medical proof..just my own theory!  Most of the people I have met on
the drug trial have had shingles and epstein barr...but could just be a coincidence.

Hope you get to the bottom of the rash and i would suggest some good old fashioned calamine lotion.

Best wishes

Sarah

PS You cannot catch shingles from someone else.
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Hi
This is the stupid thing - He is registered with a GP where his college is. This GP is the one who felt it might be chicken pox's ( no tests) and as the college is a small live on site campus, he has been sent home.

He will have to see my GP tomorrow as a "visitor". It is really obvious it is not chicken pox's I think its Pityriasis rosea.

He needs to at college and is very frustrated at being home when he feels fine.

Thanks for the info, I will see how he gets on tomorrow.

Twist
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Has it changed at all over the last few days Twist?  Does it itch, burn or hurt?  Is it raised or flat?  Has he had an temp elevation?  Is he involved in any athletics?  What are living conditions like at the school?  Close quarters?  Shared workout room?

My biggest concern (and the reason for all those questions) would be a skin infection.  Do you have community acquired MRSA infections in the UK?  It can be difficult to spot initially and even more difficult to eliminate as it is resistant to many antibiotics.

Nothing like a young man itching to get back to classes.  I hope you can send him off again after tomorrow's appointment.

Mary
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The rash has spread but stil confined to trunk and neck but does not look any more angry than it did 3 days ago. He does not have an elevated temperature.

Athletic's? well yes, he is training to be a ballet dancer. Living arrangements- there are 190 students at the school around 160 live on campus in twin study bedrooms DS is in his final year so lives off site but because of the career path these students wish to follow they work from 8:30am to 7pm each day there is one canteen shared by all.

We do have MRSA in the Uk mainly in our hospitals.

Appointments booked we will see.

thanks
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Umm, a dancer preparing to graduate.  No wonder he is so driven to return to school :)  Also interesting to my line of questions.  The wrestling world is a frequent offender for the spread of MRSA skin infection.  There are actually several similarities between dance and wrestling environments.

Please share with us when this mystery is solved.  Hope it is soon so all of you can get back to life as usual.

Mary
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Th e Answer is......

Pityriasis Versicolor - he's back at college with body shampoo & happy!

I do worry though that the college GP even considered it was chicken pox! our own GP was rather bemusesd at this too.

Thanks all

Twist
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I had chickenpox at 6 yrs old, mono at 17, shingles at 18, spinal fusion at 26, and have had pityriasis since immediately following back surgery, until the present (8 months) should I be concerned about MS?
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