Speaker 1: Answer some of your common health questions right now, joining me News Channel 5’s medical expert, Dr. David Soria, the chief of emergency medicine at Wellington Regional Medical Center. And today we’re talking chickenpox. Angelina Jolie, an adult, diagnosed with chickenpox recently, so kind of in the headlines, at least entertainment wise. What do we know about that, getting that today?
Dr. David Soria: Well chickenpox actually has become less and less common. As a matter of fact, you could probably remember, everybody used to get it. And before the advent of the vaccine, for the most part it was very, very easy to transmit from one person to the next. I mean you coughed, you sneezed, direct contact, and you would get it. So it was just used to being out there, and it was prevalent out there throughout the course of the years so everybody got it.
But since 1995, when the vaccine came out, there has been a plummet of the number of cases that have been out there. Before, 4 million cases per year, now 90% decrease in that.
Speaker 1: Wow.
Dr. David Soria: So now it’s almost becoming unusual or even rare to see chickenpox even in a childhood population, and soon, you never know, if this keeps up, it may be like small pox where we wipe it off the face of the earth. So cross your fingers, it may not be that common.
Speaker 1: You usually think of a child getting chickenpox, but if you don’t get it as a child, and as we saw, I mentioned the Jolie reference, if you don’t get it as a child can you get shingles as an adult?
Dr. David Soria: Right, so shingles is from the same virus, varicella-zoster, and when you have an exposure to chicken pox that virus never leaves your body, it stays within your body in the spinal nerve roots that run along the spinal cord. Now, one in five people, later in life, can have their virus expressed again in the form of shingles, but this time it’s a little bit different. It’s not all over your body, it’s clustered in a certain area along that dermatome where that nerve follows. Still painful, red, blisters, but goes away over the course of about 10 days. So the answer to the question is unless you’ve had exposure to chickenpox, you will not get shingles later in life. We don’t know why in certain people, why that 20% get it and why some don’t. It’s just gets expressed whether it be secondary immuno compromise, even sunlight, fatigue can do it, but nonetheless it only happens if you’ve had chickenpox in the past.
Speaker 1: Very interesting information, that’s Dr. David Soria. You can send in your questions, go to our website wptv.com, click on the health link, scroll down on the right hand side.