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Colleague came to work with chicken pox!

(42 Posts)
thumbelina03 Sun 05-Nov-17 14:56:36

Last week a member of my team came to work with suspected chicken pox. I don't share an office with her, but I had close contact and she was in and out of my office until approx 1pm when she announced she "thought" she had chicken pox. I sent her home immediately. I'm currently 8-9 weeks pregnant. I called my Mum who said she didn't think I'd had chicken pox. I then called my GP surgery and was asked to come in to have my bloods taken as a priority. This was on Tuesday of last week.

Since then I have chased my GP surgery and they seem to have lost my results! So I have no idea if I am immune or not. I am going in again tomorrow morning to see what is what as I thought if you didn't have immunity to it you had to have an injection within 4 days.

I've been in touch with the staff member and she informed me her GP said it was 75% likely to be chicken pox, so I said she wasn't to return to work until she had been given the all clear.

Work can be a bit funny, but I am reluctant to go back into the office in case a) she's infected others b) others may be carrying it and c) I don't know whether I am immune. I just don't want to take any risks at the moment.

I feel a mixture of anger with both member of staff and my GP surgery at the moment. My DH thinks I should be going back into the office tomorrow, but am I overreacting by wanting to check everything out first?!

thingymaboob Sun 05-Nov-17 15:04:47

You cannot feel angry with the member of staff. They were not to know they've got chicken pox and as you've said "work can be funny". Give them a break! When I was 6 weeks pregnant I was due to be at my best friends wedding as a bridesmaid but her son had chicken pox. My mum was convinced I'd never had chicken pox so I had the test and it turns out I had the immunity. I also have not heard about this injection that you can have within 4 days of exposure. What injection?

thumbelina03 Sun 05-Nov-17 15:08:39

She sat there all day telling others from 9am that she thought she had it, but didn't do anything about it until after lunch, so I think I have every right to be angry that she sat there with those symptoms for 5 hours before actually telling me.

It's an injection you're meant to have it you don't have immunity, which they can tell from your returned blood tests if you've been exposed to chicken pox.

gillybeanz Sun 05-Nov-17 15:10:21

As long as policies and procedures as set out by the company are followed that's all you can ask for.

Has chicken pox virus become worse over the years, or has it always been the same but people didn't bother before.
I'm hearing quite a bit about it lately, equally to how we used to treat german measles in pregnancy.

GreenTulips Sun 05-Nov-17 15:10:33

The injection prevents the baby being boar deaf or blind or both

No idea what it is though

thingymaboob Sun 05-Nov-17 15:12:13

Did that colleague know you were pregnant? Also, they're probably completely unaware of how infectious it is and how it can affect pregnant women.

thumbelina03 Sun 05-Nov-17 15:17:09

She spent part of the morning working alongside another member of staff who is about 18 weeks pregnant, who has also not been back at work since. Common sense should prevail that you don't go to work with those types of symptoms regardless of whether you know about how it affects pregnant women or not - it's contagious and she came suspecting she had it. We work in a community health setting as well with lots of vulnerable adults and children.

LaurieFairyCake Sun 05-Nov-17 15:21:46

I’m confused

Why isn’t it the responsibility of the person who is pregnant to be vaccinated ?

You could come across someone any day who is in the early stages of symptomless chicken pox confused

Dh had to go in to work with shingles, he was healthy and there’s no way he could take two weeks off when he was fine (teacher)

thumbelina03 Sun 05-Nov-17 15:24:49

They don't routinely vaccinate against it - it wasn't brought in until 1995 so unless you definitely know you've had it, you're immune. If you've not had it (which I am likely not to have as my Mum is pretty certain I haven't) then it puts you at risk as you don't know if you have immunity. Surgeries will only vaccinate once blood tests are back and they can see if you're are immune or not, which is meant to be done within 4 days of contact.

Hauntedlobster Sun 05-Nov-17 15:27:39

Does your Work know you’re pregnant? It sounds like your colleague is unbelievably stupid. It sounds like yourwork needs to look at risk sssessments for pregnst women and also their guidelines for infectious illnesses.

Nazdarovye Sun 05-Nov-17 15:28:36

I think it's a mother's responsibility to inform her grown-up children if they had chickenpox as kids or not. Your mum should have talked to you about this before getting pregnant.

Haripo Sun 05-Nov-17 15:29:34

I am not sure why everybody is "having a go" at the OP - you all seem to be questionning her reasoning and undermining her very real concerns. Immunity can mean deafness or blindness for the unborn baby.

I would be feeling exactly the same and certainly wouldn't be going back to work until you know whether you've got immunity. That risk is not worth it.

I think I too would feel very angry with the member of staff for sitting there for 5 hours suspecting she had something contagious and didn't do anything about it. I'd check your policies as well.

Hope you get the results back for your own peace of mind.

Nazdarovye Sun 05-Nov-17 15:32:15

And thingymaboob is right, you can't get angry with people with chickenpox. There's always bound to be someone around you who carries the virus. Before getting pregnant one should always ask a parent whether they had the pox as kids.

Haripo Sun 05-Nov-17 15:34:40

Come on. I've not asked my parents re chicken pox and I'm pregnant. It's not even crossed my mind until I read this post. Some of these posts are really unhelpful and patronising when they've just come here to seek advice!

lljkk Sun 05-Nov-17 15:36:14


when I had CP, 25 yrs ago, the nurses pointedly told me not to avoid anyone but old people. They said that it was better that everyone get it before they were elderly, I'd be doing people a favour to pass it on. Nobody knew then that CP can cause brain or nervous system injury to the developing fetus. That's partly b/c it's a very rare complication of pg women getting CP, so it took a while to discover the link.

So that's why pregnant women have to be careful, but also why are people are confused -- because they heard completely different advice about CP not being hazardous, not so long ago.

RebelRogue Sun 05-Nov-17 15:47:59

The two people i know that got chicken pox as adults were on their knees with it, so I’m impressed she made it into work.

You say your work is a bit funny with time off, do you think they would’ve let her stay home with suspected CP? She might’ve called in sick but they demanded she shows up anyways.

Nazdarovye Sun 05-Nov-17 15:53:37

RebelRogue I had chickenpox when I was 29 and was fine. I only had one day I slept a lot (it was a Saturday anyway) and had a rubbish appetite for about 3-4 days but I was okay otherwise. Not every adult with a chickenpox is on their knees.

thingymaboob Sun 05-Nov-17 16:02:06

Just let me clarify why I said you can't be angry for them having chicken pox. Chicken pox is most contagious a day or two before the rash appears, when they will not know they've got it. You could Coe into contact with any number of people like this. I bet you'll be pleasantly surprised that you've got immunity to it, like I was!

outedmyselfagain Sun 05-Nov-17 16:04:32

Shingles is different. When you have CP the virus is basically everywhere, including in your breath. When you have shingles it’s only in the sores. It’s only contagious through direct contact with the fluid from the sores. Government advice is that you only need to be off work or school with shingles if your rash is weeping and cannot be covered.

You can catch CP from shingles (but only very close contact), you can’t catch shingles from shingles.

Chicken pox starts as tiny little dots and at the very beginning it’s very difficult to know what it is. I can completely understand not knowing what it is you’ve got. Also, bear in mind you’re contagious for 2 days before the spots start coming out.

I’m sorry about your situation OP, but I don’t really feel you can be annoyed with your colleague over this, sorry.

The government advice for CP is to be off until all the blisters have dried out and scabbed over - which is usually about 5-7 days.

My eldest son (who is only primary school age) has only just had shingles. One of his little brothers caught it from him (which is fair enough - they share baths and it was days before I realised what the rash was on his big brother), so I’ve looked into all this stuff a lot recently.

mindutopia Sun 05-Nov-17 16:23:09

I think if you didn't know for sure that you had it as a kid, it's something you should have researched before you got pregnant and got the jab. It isn't routine, you're right, because most adults are immune from childhood. But if you aren't, it's easy to get done and you can pay privately for it if you need to. I would have done that before I got pregnant (same with rubella). I think it's unfortunate but it isn't anyone else's job to police themselves. It's chicken pox season and likely you will encounter loads of children with it soon, so unless you'll be living in a box, it will continue to be an issue if you are non-immune. I would just stay home until you know for sure.

HaHaHmm Sun 05-Nov-17 16:25:11

Surely if you work in community health setting with lots of vulnerable adults and children then you are at greater risk of coming into contact with all sorts of communicable diseases than most people anyway? Have you been vaccinated against rubella?

gillybeanz Sun 05-Nov-17 16:25:50

Thanks lljkk

I can remember children going to chicken pox parties when ours were little and certainly when I was.
I agree it used to be better to catch them young as they can be far worse when older.
When ds2 was born ds1 was 3 and came down with cp, he wasn't even at nursery, just caught it from a friend he played with.

I do think that we need to hear more about the possible complications and recent research.
I just looked and had no idea the people it could compromise.
Informing pregnant women isn't enough, older people past child bearing age probably haven't got a clue and the older generation would just think it's namby pamby as they wouldn't have a clue.

BananaSandwichesEveryDay Sun 05-Nov-17 16:46:16

When I had shingles recently, my gp was insistent that I did not go to work, even though I was able to keep the affected area covered. I work in a school and go told me that there was just too much potential to spread cp to the children and to anyone who was pregnant and not immune, it anyone whose immune system was compromised. Despite my efforts to convince him I left the surgery with a certificate for a week and a course of anti-viral tablets.
Having had a parent with a compromised immune system, I would never have gone to work with cp but I didn't realise the potential problems with shingles.

Enwi Sun 05-Nov-17 16:48:53

Ridiculously inconsiderate. OP, even if you are immune your baby is not. A very good friend of mine had a stillbirth at 6 months pregnant due to children being sent to her setting (she's a childminder) with chicken pox. She had already had chicken pox herself, but apparently it can still pass to baby regardless.
I'm so sorry this has happened and I hope you get some reassurance soon. flowers

flumpybear Sun 05-Nov-17 16:51:32

If you’re an adult and haven’t had chicken pox you ought to look into vaccination for your own health to be honest as gettjgnas an adult is worse.

If I didn’t go to work because of suspected problems I’d rarely be there / kids at school or nursery, it’s just the fun of being a parent

Get yourself vaccinated if yo can when pregnant and stop blaming others, you’ll pass a thousand people during your pregnancy who are harbouring all sorts of diseases (your body will fight most of them)

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