Measles and chickenpox in children with low resistance to infection

Measles and chickenpox in children with low resistance to infection

Measles and chickenpox are risks while your child's resistance to infection is low.

Protecting children with cancer from measles - Leroy Beckett

Leroy Beckett was in the middle of cancer treatment when the 2011 measles outbreaks hit - treatment which had reduced his immunity to almost zero. In this video, Leroy discusses his fears about measles and how immunisation in others is important to keep people like him safe.

Key points to remember

This page is part of a whole section about childhood cancer.

  • infection with measles and chickenpox causes a more serious illness in children with low infection-fighting ability (low immunity)
  • talk to your local cancer care provider urgently if your child has had contact with someone with measles or chickenpox

Measles and chickenpox

Measles and chickenpox are dangerous for a child with low infection-fighting ability (low immunity). Relatives, friends and the teachers at your child's school or preschool need to know to tell you if anyone your child has been in contact with has chickenpox, measles or shingles.

Check the measles and chickenpox pages but remember they are not aimed at children with cancer. Talk about this with your child's cancer healthcare team.

Check the following from the Ministry of Health website:

What can I do?

Ask your nurse to give you a letter about the risk to your child of chickenpox and measles that you can give to your friends, relatives, school or preschool.

If your child has been close to a person who has chickenpox, measles or shingles tell your doctor or nurse straightaway so they can give protective medication.

What does 'the infectious period' refer to?

The infectious period of an infection is the time it can pass from one person to another. Measles and chickenpox are infectious before the rash appears.

What's the infectious period for chickenpox?

Someone with chickenpox is infectious 1-2 days before the spots appear until all blisters have dried and crusted and no new ones are appearing. This usually takes 5-7 days. For more detail, see Chickenpox. But remember, this page is not written specifically for children with cancer. Talk about this with your child's cancer healthcare team.

What's the infectious period for shingles?

Shingles can cause chickenpox. Someone with shingles is infectious 1-2 days before the spots appear until all blisters have dried and crusted and no new ones are appearing.

What's the infectious period for measles?

Someone with measles is infectious from the first appearance of the symptoms of fever, or cough, or red eyes, before the rash appears, until the last of the rash fades (usually 5 days after the start of the rash). For more detail, see Measles. But remember, this page is not written specifically for children with cancer. Talk about this with your child's cancer healthcare team.

All the pages in the childhood cancer section of this website have been written by health professionals who work in the field of paediatric oncology. They have been reviewed by the members of the National Child Cancer Network (NZ). Medical information is authorised by the National Child Cancer Network Clinical Leader.

This page last reviewed 30 May 2018.
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