September 30, 2010

Herpes Zoster

Did you know that Chickenpox is caused by a kind of herpes virus? Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV), actually. It belongs to the same family of viruses that cause cold sores (HSV1), mono (EBV) and, of course genital herpes (HSV2). Recurrent outbreaks of Varicella Zoster cause shingles. It is extremely contagious and more or less the worst thing ever. And...for the record it does not come from chickens.

My kids have it. Aeden got it first. Last week he came down with a violent fever and began to develop a series of blisters all over his little body. More like shingles. Ellie's case is manifesting itself as plain old, red, itchy Chickenpox.

Telia is going stir crazy taking care of two little clingy, feverish fussy babies. When I get home from work she looks really wiped out. If you're not a parent you can read this as: Less pay off for WAY more work.

Telia is pregnant. At the moment, this is a inconvenient for two reasons. First, taking care of two whiny sick kids is less pleasant when you are large with child. Secondly, and far more serious are the potential risks of contracting Chickenpox during the first and early second trimesters of pregnancy (weeks 8 - 20).  According to the CDC and Mayo Clinic, in about 0.4 - 2.0% of pregnant women who get Chickenpox may have a child with one or more of the following: 1.) mental retardation, 2.) malformed limbs, 3.) vision problems, 4.) scars on the skin and/or 5.) muscle/bone defects. Telia is is about 20 weeks along right now, which places us (hopefully) at lower risk. Also, Telia had Chickenpox when she was little so she is inoculated against an acute outbreak. So, hold the phone, we are probably fine.

Anyway, once you've had Chickenpox, it sticks with you for life. The virus actually lives, dormant, in your nerve cell bodies. If the virus wakes back up, it will affect the skin wired by that nerve. As a result, people with Shingles, or a recurrent VZV infection, will often form blisters in stripes horizontally across their body. Varicella actually means "belt" in Greek.

When I was a kid Chickenpox was a rite of passage. Everybody got it. Like falling off a bicycle or getting a black eye, it tied us to generations gone before. When the Chickenpox vaccine came out I was under the impression Chickenpox was going extinct like Smallpox and my kids would never understand the misery I once suffered. Someday I would tell them all about the itchy scabs that would leave scars. Unfortunately, they are learning all too well. On the upside, tonight Aeden was so tired he just walked into his bed and went to sleep.


Brooke Trogdon said...

OH NOOOOO!!!! That is so sad for everyone involved. So does Aeden now have Shingles AND chickenpox? How serious is it really with him? We will keep you all in our prayers and hopefully baby #3 will be very healthy. Good luck and happy thoughts your way!

Mike and Amie said...

Oh Ben! Dang!!! I wish you all a restful and fever free night! Just remember, "it came to pass!" Good thing hugh?!

Laurie Wilcox said...

That is miserable! Unfortunately I understand all too well. Isabelle got the chicken pox when she was 10 months old... not yet old enough to get vacinated...just in time for her first Christmas, and I was 8 weeks pregnant with Levi and Landon. The good news is that we survived it all and the boys are both perfectly healthy, as you know since they are six now. I am SOOOOOO sorry for you guys... especially you, Telia! I will keep you all in our prayers. Chicken pox is so hard to endure, hang in there!

Darlene Anderson said...

This is a tough one....tough on babies and tough on mommy and daddy. My prayers are with you guys and don't forget baking soda in the should help. Love you....hang in there.