Can you catch shingles from someone with chickenpox

Can you catch shingles from someone with chickenpox


Chickenpox is caused by a virus called the varicella-zoster virus. Once you have had chickenpox this virus stays within your body, but goes dormant. At anytime in the future, after you have had chickenpox, the virus can be triggered and become active again. There is not always any apparent reason for this, but it is sometimes linked to being low or stressed due to another illness or trauma. When this occurs a person then develops a bout of shingles. This is not because you have caught shingles from anyone, or because you have been in contact with chickenpox, but purely by virtue of the fact that at sometime in the past you have had chickenpox yourself and the virus is reactivated.

Anyone of any age can suffer with bout of shingles once they have had chickenpox. A larger proportion of elderly folk seem to suffer with shingles, but this is due to a weakening/lower of the immune system in old age which may lead to a higher probability of the virus reactivating.
Can you catch shingles from someone with chickenpox

The skin blisters that form in shingles are full of the chickenpox virus, which means a person with shingles is infectious. You can't catch shingles from someone with shingles (or someone with chickenpox), but you can catch chickenpox from someone with shingles if you've never had the infection and therefore aren't immune.

Most adults - about 95 per cent - have been exposed to chickenpox and are immune, even though many aren't aware of it (they may have had only a mild dose of chickenpox when they were young). However, a small number of adults aren't immune and will be at risk. Also, when the immune system is suppressed (for example, when someone is being treated for cancer), a person can catch chickenpox for a second time. 

If an elderly person who has not had chickenpox comes into contact with a baby with chickenpox then they may contract chickenpox themselves.

A person with shingles cannot pass shingles on, but if they have contact with a person who has NEVER HAD CHICKENPOX then that person could catch chickenpox. However, it is much harder to catch chickenpox in this way. Chickenpox in its original form can be spread through coughing and sneezing and contact with the fluid in the blistery rash. A person with shingles can only spread chickenpox if the vunerable person touches the rash.

Certain categories of person who have never had chickenpox are more vunerable to the chickenpox virus and it can cause them more severe problems than normal - very young babies, very elderly folk, pregnant woman and individuals who's immune systems are compromised (ie those with HIV, other diseases that affect the immune system, those on medication that affects the immune system such as steroids or chemotherapy)