Barbara Walters' Chickenpox: Very Rare for Adults

Chrome 2001
.
Aetna Intelihealth InteliHealth Aetna Intelihealth Aetna Intelihealth
 
.
. .
Harvard Medical School
.
Chrome 2001
Chrome 2001
.

Barbara Walters' Chickenpox: Very Rare for Adults

Women's Health
9103
Women's Health
Barbara Walters' Chickenpox: Very Rare for Adults
Barbara Walters' Chickenpox: Very Rare for Adults
usatoday_2013_01_29_eng-usatoday_life_eng-usatoday_life_023022_16367482242376046
(USA TODAY) -- Veteran TV journalist Barbara Walters, hospitalized 10 days ago after a fall, turns out to have a rare adult case of chickenpox, her co-host Whoopi Goldberg said Monday on ABC's The View.
1472983
InteliHealth
2013-01-29
t
General Health News
2013-02-28
.
Barbara Walters' Chickenpox: Very Rare for Adults
January 29, 2013

(USA TODAY) -- Veteran TV journalist Barbara Walters, hospitalized 10 days ago after a fall, turns out to have a rare adult case of chickenpox, her co-host Whoopi Goldberg said Monday on ABC's The View. Walters, 83, fell and hit her head at a party at the British ambassador's residence in Washington, D.C. She had had a persistent fever, later linked to chickenpox. Walters never had it as a child, Goldberg said. USA TODAY talks with David Nace, a physician in the geriatric division at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (not involved in Walters' care) about adult cases.

Q: How unusual is chickenpox in adults?

A: Ninety percent of the people who get chickenpox get it before age 13. I have never seen a case in anyone over the age of 60. In medical literature, only a handful of cases are reported among people older than 60.

Q: What causes chickenpox, and can cases be more severe in adults than in kids?

A: The varicella-zoster virus causes chickenpox. Symptoms include a blister-type rash, itching, fever and fatigue. It can be more severe in infants and adults. We worry about pneumonia developing in adults because the virus appears to affect the lungs. Antivirals can help treat the pneumonia. There can be other complications in adults, like brain infections, but they're rare.

Q; How does chickenpox differ from shingles, which is an adults' disease?

A: Once you are infected with varicella, it remains in your body. Shingles is caused by a reactivation of the virus; it is characterized by a severe burning sensation and often appears as a rash on one part of the body. If you have never had chickenpox, avoid someone with shingles. It could be that Barbara was exposed to someone with shingles. As we get older, the immune system tends to be less effective.

Q: What's the best way to prevent chickenpox?

A: Get the chickenpox vaccine when you're young. It wasn't made available until 1995, so that wasn't an option for her. Most people who get the vaccine do not get chickenpox, and if they do, it's mild. Adults who do not think they've had chickenpox can certainly talk to their physicians about getting the vaccine, but a doctor would first check to see if an adult has been exposed to the virus in the past. It could be they had a mild form. We assume anyone 50-plus has had chickenpox.

Q: Can an adult shingles vaccine protect someone who hasn't had chickenpox from getting chickenpox?

A: The shingles vaccine might help prevent chickenpox in an older adult, but we don't really know. We assume that anyone older than 50 has had chickenpox. That's one reason we recommend the shingles vaccine for anyone who is older than 60.

Copyright 2013 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

341, 342, 343, 8010, 8896, 29758,
chickenpox,shingles,virus,pneumonia,rash,vaccine
343
Last updated January 29, 2013


    Print Printer-friendly format    
   
.
.  
This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify.
.