a good excuse to avoid dinner with the father-in-law

Actually, I generally enjoy the company of my father-in-law, but the fact of the matter is, I’ll be avoiding him for the next 5 weeks.  Why, you ask?  Because the poor guy has shingles, and I just read the following on WebMD:

Maternal chickenpox poses some risk to the unborn child, depending upon the stage of pregnancy during which the mother contracts the disease. During the first 30 weeks, maternal chickenpox may, in some cases, lead to congenital malformations. Such cases are rare and experts differ in their opinions on how great the risk is.

If the mother gets chickenpox from 21 to 5 days before giving birth, the newborn may have chickenpox at birth or develop it within a few days, as noted earlier. But the time lapse between the start of the mother’s illness and the birth of the baby generally allows the mother’s immune system to react and produce antibodies to fight the virus. These antibodies can be transmitted to the unborn child and thus help fight the infection. Still, a third of the babies exposed to chickenpox in the 21 to 5 days before birth develop shingles in the first 5 years of life because the virus must also be fought by immune cells.

What if the mother contracts chickenpox at precisely the time of birth? In that case the mother’s immune system has not had a chance to mobilize its forces. And although some of the mother’s antibodies will be transmitted to the newborn via the placenta, the newborn will have precious little ability to fight off the attack because the immune system is immature. For these babies chickenpox can be fatal. They must be given “zoster immune globulin,” a preparation made from the antibody-rich blood of adults who have recently recovered from chickenpox or shingles.

The husband is getting put through quarentine-level decontamination when he gets home tonight after visiting his dad – clothes go straight into the washing machine and he goes straight into the shower. 


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