How contagious is shingles?

Risk of infection from shingles

The Shingles is in contrast to the chickenpox significantly less contagious.
Both diseases are caused by the same virus that Varicella zoster virus, triggered.
The only way shingles can be transmitted is in direct contact with the highly infectious contents of the vesicles (Smear infection).

Transmission through the air or breathing (Droplet infection) can not.
Of the virus-containing The contents of the vesicles can only make people sick who have never had contact with the virus. That means only people who have been so far no chickenpox disease may get shingles due to the virus. In these people, there is contact with the contents of the vesicles always to an initial infection with chickenpox, even if the pathogen originates from the vesicles of the shingles. ("No zoster without chickenpox").
For people who already got chickenpox mean the varicella zoster viruses no new danger. There is no direct infection with shingles.

Pregnant women and other people at risk

Basically, too Pregnant women and the unborn child Not at risk from the varicella zoster virus if she has already suffered the disease or was vaccinated before pregnancy.
If the pregnant woman in her previous life no chickenpox disease had and also not vaccinated against chickenpox (varicella) is, this can be for Abortion of the unborn child to lead.
The reason for this is that the expectant mother, when infected with varicella in the pregnancy the viruses transferred to the child via the placenta can. A chickenpox infection in the mother shortly before or shortly after the birth is also a major health risk for the newborn. For this reason, people with chickenpox or shingles should avoid contact with pregnant women in order to avoid risk.
In addition to pregnant women, immun-weakened patients (for example Cancer patients or HIV sufferers) to protect against infection.

Duration of the risk of infection

How long are you contagious to others when you are on Shingles is ill? In the case of shingles, non-immunized people, i.e. those who have not been vaccinated and have not yet received the chickenpox are sick, get through Contact with the contents of the vesicle with the virus infect. Since the infection always occurs through contact with the virus-containing secretion of the skin vesicles ("smear infection"), there is a risk of infection until the vesicles are completely dried out and encrusted. This takes up to two to three weeks.

incubation period

Since shingles is not a disease of a new infection with the varicella zoster virus, but rather a reactivation of the virus persisting in the body, no incubation period can be specified. This is the time span between infection and illness.
If, on the other hand, a person becomes infected with the varicella zoster virus for the first time through contact with someone suffering from shingles or chickenpox, they usually develop the first signs of chickenpox after 14 to 16 days. However, the incubation period can be as short as 8 or up to 28 days.
In order to generally avoid the transmission of viruses, the liquid-filled vesicles should not be opened. There is a risk of infection until all the blisters have dried out and fallen off.

Risk of infection in babies

For the newborn, contact with Varicella zoster viruses a particular danger Does the mother fall ill with the contagious in a certain period of time shortly before or shortly after the birth of the baby chickenpox, the child is particularly at risk of becoming infected. As the immature immune system of the baby virus can not fight back, it can lead to very severe forms, especially in children who fall ill between the fifth and tenth day of life. The so-called heavy ones neonatal varicella are in 30% of cases fatal for the newborn.
That is why women who want to have children who have not yet had chickenpox or who have not had enough antibodies in spite of a previous infection will get them blood have a vaccination recommended. This is the only way to prevent them from falling ill shortly before or after the birth and infecting their child.
If the mother has enough antibodies in the blood through a vaccination or through an infection, then she transfers them to the child via the placenta (placenta) and later through the breast milk. Through the so-called Nest protection the child will be with maternal antibodies supplied and protected against the virus. However, these antibodies are broken down after a few months until the protection no longer exists. Once all maternal antibodies have been broken down, one should vaccination against the varicella zoster virus. This vaccination is from 11th month of life recommended.
If a baby comes into contact with the varicella zoster virus in the period before the vaccination, for example through a smear infection with the vesicle contents of a person suffering from shingles, there is a risk of infection and the following illness with chickenpox.

Shingles despite chickenpox

Usually people who have had chickenpox in their lifetime or who have been vaccinated against varicella have enough antibodies. So you have adequate immunity to the varicella zoster virus and you can do it virus fend off contact with someone with shingles.
However, immunity can decrease over the years. This means that despite having had chickenpox infection, you can no longer fend off the virus on contact and become one reactivation, of the Shingles comes. Because of this, it has been one for a few years Vaccination for people from 50 years available against shingles.

Is shingles contagious if you don't have blisters?

In general, shingles carries a significantly lower risk of infection than chickenpox. In contrast to chickenpox, infection does not take place through the air, but rather through light contact with an infected person. Infection occurs only through the secretion fluid of the vesicles. Even if there are no blisters in the sick person, infection cannot be 100% excluded. Undetected blisters or small, barely recognizable blisters can also produce small amounts of secretion. Viruses can therefore still be found on the skin, which can be sufficient for infection. Except in direct, close physical contact, the likelihood of infection is very low.

Am I contagious if I take medication?

Taking the antiviral medication in the case of shingles will slowly lower the viral load. There is still a possibility of infection, especially at the beginning of therapy. As the therapy progresses and becomes successful, the likelihood continues to decrease. The drugs themselves do not encourage infection. Vaccination cannot infect other people either. The vaccination is only about small inactivated parts of the original pathogen, which can neither cause shingles in the vaccinated person nor in other contact persons.

Can I get sick leave so I don't get infected?

In general, it is unusual to take sick leave for fear of being infected by a colleague. In the case of contagious diseases, the person concerned is obliged to stay away from work himself. In a job without physical contact, infection with shingles is very unlikely. For risk groups, such as pregnant women, sick leave can still be justified. In the medical profession, for example, pregnant women are not allowed to treat infectious patients.

Am I 100% protected by a vaccination?

The vaccination gives the immune system the opportunity to recognize parts of the pathogen causing shingles and to create antibodies in advance that can prevent infection in the event of an infection. In the majority of cases, vaccination for shingles is reliable, but 100% protection is not given with any vaccination. This is due to differences in the virus and the immune responses of the individual vaccinated. A virus can spontaneously mutate and change, making the body's antibodies no longer recognize it. Likewise, so-called “non-respondents” can only produce weak antibodies, which cannot completely stop an infection. The vaccination against shingles is worthwhile in most cases, especially in old age, but no guarantee can be given.

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