ZocdocAnswersCan I get chicken pox more than once?

Question

Can I get chicken pox more than once?

I am 29 and female. I had chicken pox when I was a kid like everyone else. Could I get it again? My son is going through it now.

Answer

First of all I am sorry to hear that your son has developed chicken pox. Chicken pox is a disease that is caused by the initial exposure to something called the varicella zoster virus (VZV). It is a highly contagious airborne disease that doesn't normally manifest itself until 5 to 7 days after exposure to the virus. It typically presents with myalgia (muscle ache), malaise (generalized crummy feeling), nausea, fever, etc combined with a trunchal vessicular rash (meaning there are small blisters that are concentrated on the head and chest/abdomen). The diagnosis can be confirmed with something called a Tsanck smear of the fluid from one of the blisters. Once a host has been infected, initially the immune system responds by creating antibodies called IgM. Thus presence of these antibodies is another way of detecting an active or recent infection. A little while after the initial exposure, the body is able to manufacture the antibodies (IgG) that provide immunity against the virus and any subsequent infections with the same virus. Vaccination techniques take advantage of this very efficient immunologic process to mimic an infection with the actual pathogenic virus, such that the body creates therapeutic levels (aka titers) of IgG against the virus. Thus when the body is exposed at a later date to the actual pathogen, the IgG's destroy it before it has a chance to infect the host. Thus assuming that your immune system is otherwise normal, and your titers (IgG levels) from your infection as a kid, you should be safe. However, I would definitely discussing this with your primary care physician to determine if your particular case and medical history fit into this paradigm. I hope this helps.

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