Can adults catch chickenpox?

Dear Doctor: I am 35 years old but I got blisters and a very high fever and the doctor said it was chicken pox. Can an adult get chicken pox? Can I spread it to others?
James Ochungu
DearJames: Chickenpox, caused by the varicella-zoster virus is a very contagious disease. The virus spreads easily to those who have never had the disease or (like in countries where they immunise against chickenpox ) those who have never received the chickenpox vaccine.
The virus spreads in the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes or by touching virus particles that come from chickenpox blisters. Chickenpox can also be spread from people with shingles locally known as kisipi. Chickenpox is very common in children and an infection usually gives lifelong immunity. Although it is largely considered a children’s disease, adults who have never suffered from it or have immunity problems arising from an HIV infection can get it. A person with chickenpox can spread the disease within a period of one to two days before they get the blisters. Since it takes 10 to 21 days after exposure for a person to develop chickenpox, it is not easy to trace the source of infection. Those who have the disease remain infectious until all their chickenpox blisters have formed scabs.
Apart from causing blisters on the skin, chickenpox can be accompanied by headache, fever and cough, among others. Most children with chickenpox completely recover but it can be serious for babies, adolescents, adults, and people with weakened immune systems.

Dear Doctor: Three days ago I drank a soda but later found out that the lip of the bottle was broken. I now have stomach pain. Please help!

Asuman Kasigwa

Dear Asuman: Stories are told of how broken glass can be mixed with food to kill an unsuspecting person when it cuts through the intestines, reaching and damaging the heart.
This, therefore, may have created the fear of ill-health or death from broken bottle parts taken with soda.
Regardless of whether they have seen the broken glass in their food or not, people will often become suspicious if they suffer acute abdominal pains after consuming food and passage of bloody stools.
Though the type of food one has eaten may affect the duration between eating food and its residues reaching the rectum, the average digestion time is 14 to 24 hours.
Since it is more than 24 hours since you drank the soda, it is likely that you will not suffer any harm.

Dear Doctor: I had stomach pain and, on testing, I was found to have malaria and prescribed Quinine and Panadol. I was afraid to take Quinine since I suffered a miscarriage during my last pregnancy. I am taking Panadol instead but is my baby safe?

Anita, Kampala

Dear Anita: Some women do not plan pregnancy and as such, may mistake their early pregnancy symptoms for malaria. Thus, they may self-prescribe or get treated for malaria even when they do not have it. It is usually when the symptoms persist, that a pregnancy test is done only to discover they are actually pregnant.
The first eight weeks of pregnancy are critical for the health of the baby because organs are forming. As such, drugs should be given only when they are absolutely necessary to avoid birth defects or even miscarriages.
Malaria and other fever-causing ailments in pregnancy can lead to miscarriage. That is why they are always treated seriously especially in pregnancy. It is highly unlikely that drugs for malaria were responsible for your miscarriage because Quinine is a recommended drug for malaria in pregnancy.
You, therefore, should go back to your doctor to treat the malaria. Otherwise, it will compromise your health and that of your unborn child.
Drugs such as Panadol may relieve malaria symptoms like fever and headache but will not kill the parasites that cause malaria, putting you and your baby’s health at risk.