When adults get it, however, they can get very sick. For example, you can’t get shingles from someone with shingles coughing or sneezing on you. If you’ve had chickenpox, you already have the shingles virus. You can’t catch shingles from someone else who has shingles. But there is a small chance that a person with a shingles rash can spread the virus to another person who hasn’t had chickenpox and who hasn’t gotten the chickenpox vaccine.
A person with chickenpox can spread the disease from 1 to 2 days before they get the rash until all their chickenpox blisters have formed scabs. Chicken pox; Herpes zoster; Postherpatic neuralgia. People can also catch chickenpox from direct contact with a shingles rash if they have not been immunized by vaccination or by a previous bout of chickenpox. You can catch chickenpox from someone with shingles if you have not had chickenpox before. But most adults and older children have already had chickenpox, and so are immune.
Someone who is infected this way will develop chickenpox, though, not shingles. It is possible to get shingles more than once, but this is not common. Doctors aren’t sure why the virus suddenly flares up again after months or years of inactivity. Persons who are previously vaccinated can still get chickenpox. If chickenpox occurs in a vaccinated person it is usually mild and less contagious than in an unvaccinated person. Shingles (herpes varicella-zoster) is a reappearance of chickenpox.
After a person has had chickenpox, the varicella-zoster virus can remain inactive in the body for many years. Anyone 60 years of age or older should get the shingles vaccine, regardless of whether they recall having had chickenpox or not. Shingles is most common in people over the age of 50, but anyone who has had chicken pox can get it. A person with shingles can transmit the chickenpox virus to anyone who has not had chickenpox or the varicella vaccination. In fact, one out of every three people 60 years or older will get shingles. The remaining 1 percent who do get it will get a much milder version of it. Once someone recovers from chickenpox, the virus remains dormant, but can reactivate years later, causing shingles, which is characterized by a painful rash, often on one side of the face or body.