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Shingles Virus Infection : Pre-emptive Measures during Pregnancy

Posted Jun 27 2010 11:08pm

The varicella-zoster virus or the shingles virus is vastly communicable. In case one has not developed chickenpox, it is crucial that one avoids being exposed to any person having the shingles infection. Pregnant women must especially avoid crowded areas where there are chances of physical contact with the infection. In case a person has a history of chickenpox then he/she could not contract shingles or chickenpox from some person.

When chickenpox develops among pregnant women it has the potential of leading to infection or birth anomalies in the fetus based on when one developed the infection. Shingles can even be causal to some health issues in the baby however specialists concur that the chances are lesser as compared to chickenpox. During a large-scaled study, there was dearth of proof of fetal damage among pregnant females that contracted the shingles infection.

In case a pregnant woman is doubtful whether she has chickenpox then a basic blood analysis for checking antibodies to varicella-zoster or shingles virus could be done. In case there are antibodies present (suggesting that one had a history of chickenpox infection) then there are chances of developing shingles in the future, however one cannot contract shingles from another person.

Zostavax is an FDA approved vaccine which could aid in preventing shingles. During scientific researches, general incidence of shingles was lowered by half due to the vaccination. Among individuals that got inoculated and still developed shingles, the intensity was drastically lowered. However, a woman would have to get inoculated prior to conceiving. Maker of the shingles vaccination advise women to wait for a minimal of 3 months post-inoculation before trying conception.

Shingles Complications among Pregnant Women

Shingles virusShingles virus caused infection could be quite excruciating. Several individuals seek medical advice for shingles solely due to the pain. Some have cited the feeling akin to something stroking across the inflammation-ridden nerve tips on the skin and being agonizing. Despite the rash having subsided, the associated complication, postherpetic neuralgia could last at times for many years.

Shingles could also lead to other long-term complications. In case the facial area has been affected, it could be damaging to the eyes. Shingles of the eye could cause vision-damaging scarring and can additionally lead to glaucoma, an eye condition which could make a person blind later on.

Shingles might additionally lead to auditory or balance issues, along with muscular weakness experienced on the infected side. Rarely, shingles may possibly even afflict the spinal cord or brain causing grave complications like meningitis or stroke.

The CDC estimates that over a third of individuals that develop shingles would suffer from grave complications later on. Individuals with compromised immune systems due to medicine intake or conditions like HIV are also at an augmented risk of developing complications. Elderly individuals above sixty years of age are particularly prone to developing complications that rules out females in their reproductive years.

The frequency of shingles among expectant mothers is quite less. Those women intent on conceiving and have concerns regarding shingles must discuss with their physician regarding the shingles vaccine. Pregnant women should ideally be practicing healthful habits and informing the physician regarding any signs and symptoms so that earlier treatment could prevent maternal-fetal complications.

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