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Year : 2000  |  Volume : 66  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 51-52

Catching shingles from chicken pox

Correspondence Address:
Elizabeth Jayaseelan

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 20877027

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How to cite this article:
Jayaseelan E. Catching shingles from chicken pox. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 2000;66:51-2

How to cite this URL:
Jayaseelan E. Catching shingles from chicken pox. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol [serial online] 2000 [cited 2020 Nov 29];66:51-2. Available from:

To the editor:

Chicken pox is caused by varicella zoster virus and its reactivation in the dorsal root ganglion results in shingles. Chicken pox can be caught from shingles and the reverse does not happen. [1,2] Here we report two cases of herpes zoster (shingles) in a family which had out break of chicken pox.

Case 1. A 65-year-old female patient presented with herpes zoster on the C 8 T1 dermatoses. Tzanck smear was positive for viral giant cells and she had a history of chicken pox when she was young. Her daughter who brought tier was just recovering from chicken pox one month prior. The patient was not immunocompromised and she was otherwise healthy. She recovered uneventfully with oral acyclovir.

Case 2. A young male doctor had chicken pox and was advised oral acyclovir. He was worried about his wife contracting chicken pox because she was two months pregnant. However the 26-old-lady was sure that she had chicken pox when she was young. After seven days as the chicken pox was healing, the wife presented with a vesicle on tip of the nose. Her eyes were normal on clinical examination. Tzanck smear was positive for viral giant cells and serum antibodies for herpes simplex was negative. She was started on topical acyclovir cream and called back the next day. The subsequent day the patient presented with two more vesicles on the nose and had irritation, watering and edema of the left eye. The ophthalmologist confirmed keratitis of left eye and was treated with acyclovir applicaps. She had unilateral left sided headache. She did not develop any more vesicles and recovered uneventfully. These two cases presented to the outpatient department during an epidermic of chicken pox 'January-April' in South India. During this period there were many herpes zoster cases also. Outbreak of shingles have been reported within a short period in a large office.[3]It has been postulated that when previously infected cases are intimately exposed to cases with varicella-zoster virus infection, not only IgG and IgA show a rise but also IgM. These humoral responses induced by re-exposure to varicella zoster virus interferes with cellular defences by blocking of cell-mediated immunity, thereby allowing reactivation of latent virus. [4]Therefore, through subclinical reinfection and reactivation of latent virus "catching shingles from chicken pox" is a possibility.

  References Top

1.Highet A S, Kurtz J. Varicella and zoster. In: Rook A, Wilkinson DS Ebling FIG. Textbook of Dermatology V Eds, Oxford Blackwell. 886891.  Back to cited text no. 1    
2.Severson JL, Tyring SK. Viral Diseases Update. Current Problems in Dermatology 1999; 11:252-257.  Back to cited text no. 2    
3.Palmar SR, Caul EO, Donald DE, et al. An outbreak of shingles? Lancet 1985 ii: 1108-1111.  Back to cited text no. 3    
4.Editorial. Outbreaks of shingles, Lancet 1985 ii: 1105-1106.  Back to cited text no. 4    


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