Getting shingles from working

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I have a co-worker who says they got shingles from work. She said that it called occupational shingles

Is this true? You can get shingles from work?

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9 Replies

  • Posted

    Simple answer, no. Shingles is caused by the chicken pox virus which is dormant. If she means she was under a lot of stress at work, and her immune system was impaired by it and she developed shingles, that's her definition.

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  • Posted

    Dora,

    Herpes Zoster-Shingles is a reactivation of the varicella virus which has been dormant on the dorsal nerve root of the central nervous system until the immunity wanes. The individual would have had a prior case of chicken pox. One never catches shingles.

    I am a nurse practitioner in the States.

    Best Wishes.

    Merry Juliana

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  • Posted

    So there is no way she would of gotten any kind of shingles from work?

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    • Posted

      No, you can not catch shingles. You CAN catch chicken pox from someone who has chicken pox, just as in catching a cold, the measles etc. Only in an extremely unusual situation could one get CHICKEN POX someone else's shingles rash, that person would then have chicken pox, not shingles. It's almost impossible to spread chicken pox from a shingles rash, but if I had an open, active rash which is exposed, I wouldn't allow an infant or someone with a compromised immune system to come in contact with THAT RASH. They could get chicken pox. So again, NO. All she could get would be stressed from work. What her body makes her vulnerable after that, who knows.

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  • Posted

    I back up what the others say. However, severe stress at work can spark off a lot of different short and long term problems, and on-going heat stress in particular has been linked with problems such as shingles, as a result. Severe heat is one of those known triggers for some people. A lowering of resistance can trigger a number of things, depending on the medical situation of the exposed individual etc. Given the right medical history, one of those results might be shingles, but you can't catch it from a process or substance at work, you would need to have the dormant virus in your body first. Most of my life has been spent in occupational health work, and I did only once come across a reference which linked shingles as a possible occupational outcome, in advice on heat stress, but it did emphasize that this was not a direct cause.

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  • Posted

    To add to my last post, I did just look up shingles and work online. It's years since I retired so I wanted to check if there's anything new being brought up. Another trigger which can be work-related, or not, is traumatic injury and there is something on this. I found a couple of articles where an injury at work has become a seeming trigger for a follow-on attack of shingles in the relevant part of the body. An academic article (issued after my retirement) titled "A study of post-traumatic shingles as a work-related injury" tells of a case study of a healthcare worker who had a traumatic injury to her right wrist, hand and fingers, and this was believed to be linked with a subsequent shingles outbreak she had at the C5-6 vertebrae (from where nerves are linked to those fingers etc). The article is warning clinicians to be aware of the possibility of post-traumatic injury being a possible trigger factor. Of course, there still has to be the latent correct virus in the body already, so again we are talking trigger, not direct cause. There were also articles which claim non-work injuries (eg broken rib at home) have triggered a shingles outbreak in the same part of the body, linked with the relevant bit of the spinal column.

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    • Posted

      On this weird journey called shingles and PHN, I ended up corresponding with a researcher in shingles. He referenced this study which linked injury sites and subsequent shingles out breaks. I found that interesting, as I hadn't heard that. I'm in a different group and asked people there how many had that happen. There were a few cases, but the vast majority of us felt that stress or a compromised immune system were the causes for their outbreak.

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  • Posted

    Kathryn,

    Yes, shingles can occur at a site of trauma or surgical site. You still need a prior chicken pox infection and waning immunity for Herpes Zoster-Shingles varicella virus to be reactivated.

    This certainly happened to me. As to state it is a work related illness, and claim she got shingles from work, absolutely not.

    Best Wishes

    Merry Juliana

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  • Posted

    The stress of a job and the viruses going around are things to consider. In January, I had viral laryngitis from an outbreak in the office. Six months later I developed shingles and after some research, learned that viral laryngitis can develop into shingles. I was lucky, I was just starting to break out after having a painful scalp, forehead and temple, and the doctor recognized it as shingles and prescribed antivirals. Two unorthodox things have helped, Zantac for swelling and Equate Severe Allergy Plus Sinus Headache for pain. I wouldn't be able to work without them, with this outbreak. My feeling is that as long as you work in an enclosed environment, with coworkers forced to come to work no matter what they've got because of the heavy workload nowadays, there is definitely a risk. There is an over the counter antiviral, Monolaurin that can be taken regularly, that might keep you healthy. And trying to get enough sleep and taking gentle, thoughtful care of yourself will help too. Try Belleruth Naperstek cds, that have affirmations and guided imagery targeted at wellness, stress, depression and a lot of other helpful topics.

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