February 3 at 4:15 AM • Comments: 0 • Views: 9202

Why is Chicken Pox Contagious, but not Shingles?

Chicken Pox and Shingles: The Connecting Factors

Chicken pox and shingles are caused by the same virus, varicella zoster, commonly known as herpes zoster . Initial infection with this particular virus, creates the condition known as chicken pox. Symptoms of chicken pox typically last two weeks or less dependent upon the efficiency of the individual immune system. However, while the majority of immune systems are capable of fighting this infection, it is common for the virus to remain in a state of dormancy, undetected, as the virus is not completely eliminated by the immune system. This dormancy period is random and can last from weeks to years dependent upon many environmental and genetic factors. The re-activation of the varicella zoster virus from this state of dormancy is known as shingles.

Chicken Pox is Contagious

Chicken pox is considered to be a highly contagious condition. This is due to its particular modes of transmission. Direct contact is not necessary to contract the herpes zoster virus when currently infected with chicken pox. When associated with chicken pox, the virus is not only contracted through direct contact with an infected person, but is also transmissible through the air by droplets contaminated with the varicella zoster virus. Chicken pox is typically considered most contagious in the early stages, but remains contagious until all the "pox" have healed.

Shingles is Contagious

It is a common misunderstanding and myth that shingles is not contagious, when the fact remains that shingles is contagious. However, it is typically more difficult to contract shingles than chicken pox due to its mode of transmission. Shingles is accompanied with the symptom of fluid filled blisters. These blisters contain high active concentrations of the varicella zoster virus. Direct contact with this fluid is necessary to contract the herpes zoster virus.

Chicken Pox or Shingles: What is it?

Shingles is caused by the re-activation of the herpes zoster virus and initial infection with this virus causes chicken pox. Therefore, the development of shingles is impossible without first infection creating the condition of chicken pox. Once an individual has had chicken pox, it is possible to develop shingles. Both chicken pox and shingles are contagious.

  • If a healthy individual that has never been in contact with the herpes zoster virus, makes direct contact with the fluid from a shingles blister , it is possible that individual will develop the chicken pox.
  • If a healthy individual that has never been in contact with the herpes zoster virus, is within the respiratory vicinity or makes direct contact with a contagious chicken pox individual, it is possible that individual will develop the chicken pox .
  • If an individual that has had the chicken pox makes direct contact with the fluid from a shingles blister, it is possible that this will stimulate the individual to suffer from the condition of shingles.
  • If an individual that has had the chicken pox has contact with a contagious chicken pox individual, it is possible that this will stimulate the individual to suffer from the condition of shingles.

Therefore it is possible for chicken pox and shingles to cause other individuals the chicken pox or a shingles outbreak, dependent upon the individual case.

Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/shingles/shingles-topic-overview

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/shingles/basics/definition/con-20019574

http://www.emedicinehealth.com/shingles/article_em.htm

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