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Will I contact chiken pox from my boyfriend?

Q: I have never had chicken pox before. About 4 days back, my boyfriend was ill and complaining of fever and body aches. He then started developing rashes on his body. Unfortunately I had contact with him a day before and a day after the rashes developed. I don't remember having a direct contact with any broken blisters. I am now taking care of him, because there is no other option as he is very weak. I am concerned and want to know if I am already infected with the virus. How can I know? Can I prevent it?

A:Chickenpox (varicella) is an infectious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus of the herpes family. The disease results in a blister-like rash, itching, tiredness and fever. It is a highly infectious disease that spreads from person to person by direct contact or through the air from an infected person’s coughing or sneezing. A patient with chickenpox is contagious 1-2 days before the rash appears and until all blisters have formed scabs. It takes from 10-21 days after contact with an infected person for someone to develop chickenpox. The varicella vaccine is 85 percent effective in preventing disease. If a vaccinated person gets varicella, it is usually a very mild disease. The recommended strategy is to vaccinate children routinely at age 12 to 18 months and to provide “catch-up” vaccinations for older children, adolescents, and adults who have not been vaccinated. Studies show that immunity persists for more than 20 years after vaccination. All children between 12 and 18 months of age should have one dose of chickenpox vaccine. Children who have had chickenpox do not need the vaccine. Children between 19 months and their 13th birthday who have not had chickenpox should be vaccinated with a single dose. Individuals 13 years and older who have not had chickenpox should get two doses of the vaccine 4 to 8 weeks apart. Despite vaccination, about 10% individuals do not develop enough protection to completely prevent them from developing chickenpox. When they come into close contact with a person with chickenpox, they may develop a mild case of disease but compared with a case of chickenpox in an unvaccinated individual, they will show very little sign of illness. Susceptible persons who are particularly vulnerable to varicella virus, under certain circumstances of significant exposure, may be treated with post-exposure varicella zoster immunoglobulin (VZIG). The individual should get the blood tested for VZ antibody and VZIG should be given within 7-10 days of exposure.


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