Two teen boys become the first ever to contract meningitis from chickenpox vaccine: Live virus reactivated over a DECADE after they received the shot, doctors claim
- Both boys received the two recommended doses of the varicella, or chickenpox, vaccine as children
- In rare cases in immunocompromised patients, the live virus used in the shot can reactivate and can causes infections including shingles and meningitis
- One of the boys was immuncompromised with a history of leukemia while the other was otherwise healthy
- They were treated with acyclovir, an antiviral drug that treats chickenpox, shingles and cold scores
Doctors believe they have discovered the first known case of the chickenpox vaccine reactivating in two 14-year-old boys and causing meningitis.
According to the paper, published in the journal Pediatrics, both teens had received the recommended two doses of the varicella vaccine as children.
The vaccine, which was developed in the 1970s and first distributed in the US in 1995, has been proven to be safe and effective.
However, in very rare cases in immunocompromised patients, the live virus can reactivate and can causes shingles, pneumonia, hepatitis or meningitis, which is an inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord.
A new paper has discussed the case of two 14-year-old boys who were diagnosed with meningitis after the chickenpox vaccine they received as children allegedly reactivated (file image)
Previous cases of the virus reactivating and causing meningitis years after vaccination – a phenomenon known as vOka varicella – have been reported in children who received just one dose of the vaccine.
‘Less is known about…reactivation in older children after the [two]-dose vaccine series,’ the authors write.
According to the paper, only one of the boys had a compromised immune system due to a history of leukemia.
Doctors said he experienced temporary symptoms of numbness and slurred speech.
However, the other boy was otherwise healthy. Both were treated with acyclovir, an antiviral drug that treats chickenpox, shingles and cold scores.
‘Pediatricians should be aware of the potential of vOka varicella to reactivate and cause clinically significant central nervous system disease in vaccinated children and adolescents,’ the authors said.
The varicella vaccine against chickenpox is made with a live, weakened version of the virus that the causes the disease.
This teaches the immune system to recognize and attack the infection if or when you are exposed to it in the future.
In healthy people, live-virus vaccines do not cause infections. However, pregnant women, those with compromised immune system and those who’ve had organ transplants may be susceptible to infection in rare cases.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends children receive two doses of the vaccine: the first between 12 and 15 months and the second between ages four and six.
Prior to the vaccine, four million Americans caught chickenpox, between 10,500 and 13,000 were hospitalized, and 100 to 150 died each year.
But now, according to the CDC, the vaccine prevents 3.5 million cases of chickenpox, 9,000 hospitalizations and 100 deaths.