Ah, Pox!

Possum is 6 years

Bandicoot is 3 years 10 months

Little Princess is 1 year 2 months (16 months)


Lately we have had the pleasure of learning more about chicken pox than we really wanted to know.

Possum’s best mate was exposed to chicken pox during the school holidays.  He is vaccinated and so is Possum, but just to be sure his Mum kept him in quarantine while she was waiting for him to potentially spot up.  To be extra careful, she kept him home from school at the end of holidays for extra days.  He finally came back to school for one day and sure enough, then he came out in spots.

So the wait was on to see if spots would appear.  In the interim, Little Princess was vaccinated.  Apparently the vaccination works faster than the wild virus, so even if she had been exposed it should give her some protection.

Now, here is the rub.  On day 15 we were hosting my mother’s 85th birthday party.  Amongst the guests were an 85 year old, a cancer sufferer, two babies, two adults who have not had chicken pox (coincidentally the mothers of the babies), and two adults who, despite having had chicken pox previously, have no immunity to the virus (one of whom lives with the 85 year old, the other with the cancer sufferer).  At this stage we still thought that the incubation period was 14 days, so the absence of spots had us delighted.

On the evening of day 16 Possum had a very suspicious looking spot on his arm.  I know, chicken pox is supposed to present on the body first.  And there is supposed to be more than ONE spot.  So did he have chicken “pock” or not?  It was definitely a spot that followed all the correct patterns, but despite careful inspection for days, it remained a lone spot.

Little Princess on the other hand, came out in a series of spots (about five on her face) a day later.  I knew that it could happen post vaccination, but was it that, or was it the real deal?  The doctor said that if it was going to happen it would be about a week after the vaccination.  It seemed too quick for the wild virus to have been passed to her, but was it too slow for the vaccination side effects?  Was she contagious?

More research showed some fun facts:

  • The wild virus incubation period is 14 to 21 days (not just 14 as we had thought).  It is contagious while the spots are coming up until they are all crusted over.  However it is most contagious two days prior to the spots showing.  It is mostly transferred via coughing etc – great in a household that is riddled with colds and flu at the moment!
  • The vaccination is not contagious prior to the spots showing, but it is while there are spots, similar to the wild virus, and it is spread in the same way.  The spots show from 10-26 days after the vaccination.

So, were they contagious at the party, or weren’t they?  And even if Possum didn’t catch it from his friend, will the boys catch chicken pox from Little Princess?  I guess time will tell.

I do know that there is a pretty good chance of me catching shingles from Little Princess, given how run-down I am and how much tending she has required.  Let’s hope that doesn’t eventuate either!


***Note:  This article is about the life of a Mum, not medical advice


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