Shingles and the CLL Patient
This is not meant to be a comprehensive article; if you have any reason to think that you may have shingles, contact your doctor. If you want more information on symptoms, and a excellent guide to treatment that you can take to your GP, then go to http://www.shinglessupport.org/
All CLL patients have a damaged immune system. With shingles, this means that you can get shingles more often, it can spread through your body faster, and you could be in pain for some time.
The first symptoms of shingles is very sensitive tingling or burning skin on one side of your body or your face. This can happen before you get a rash. There can even be a burning pain as the first symptom.
If you believe that you may have shingles, contact your doctor immediately.
If you are going through a service such as NHS direct, http://www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk/ repeat to every person that you talk to that you have Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia and you have a damaged immune system.
The sooner you get treatment, the less the shingles will spread. You may be able to avoid post herpetic neuralgia, a condition that can follow shingles. Post herpetic neuralgia is unremittingly painful, sometimes for months.
Most adults have the shingles virus living dormant inside them. If you ever had chicken pox, then you have the shingles virus. The virus, herpes varicelazoster, is transmitted through contact with the contents of the blisters that form in chicken pox or shingles, and in the crusts from the scabs. No-one knows what triggers shingles attacks.
You should be aware that during the infectious blistering stage of shingles you could transmit the virus to someone who has not had chicken pox. You can infect other people.
Three types of people are vulnerable to infection:
- Immune suppressed people like yourself
- Pregnant women
- Children who have not had a vaccination against chicken pox, and have not had the disease.
Please note that the shingles vaccine contains live virus and should NOT be used for CLL patients or for anyone who is immune suppressed.