11.30.2008

Solitary confinement?


"Have you ever had the measles?" This was one of the first questions my doctor ever asked me.

"No. I don't think so," I replied. "But I a was vaccinated as a child."

I didn't give the matter another thought, until a recent blood test revealed that I am, in fact, NOT immune rubella-- typically a harmless virus that can cause terrible birth defects in fetuses of infected mothers.

You might not think this fact should cause me alarm. I mean, really, when was the last time you heard of someone getting measles? While it is true a successful vaccination program has almost eliminated the virus in the United States, rubella is still a problem in much of Europe. This past year, outbreaks occurred in numerous countries such as Austria, Spain, Switzerland, and Germany--including a case in April that involved 151 school children in a state bordering my own.

"You must avoid rubella," the doctor warned three times in our most recent phone call. To be honest, he sort of freaked me out.

How do avoid it? I've notified my closest friends and associates to raise awareness of my plight. My husband has been tested to make sure he is immune and cannot pass the virus to me. But do I need to go ever farther in my efforts? Do I cancel my trip to the United States and our cruise in the Carribbean out of fear of exposure? Do I avoid public gatherings--even stores and restaurants-- until the end of February when I hit 20 weeks, an important milestone in fetal development and when the risk to my unborn child goes down to almost nothing?

These are the questions I have for my doctor on Wednesday.

21 comments:

oreneta said...

GAK!

There was a batch that went for years that did not vaccinate properly. My North American Dr, who knew about the problem got it before I got pregnant. What a drag for you. Don't go volunteer in a day care anyway.

American in Norway said...

Oh chick...I would just stay away from Children for a while... Hang in there...pregnancy is stressful anyway...I know you have a lot on your mind....

V-Grrrl said...

When I was in mid 20s, they had free booster shots at my university because many people vaccinated in the 60s no longer had immunity. I got a booster then...

What a dilemma--I'm sorry you're facing this.

C N Heidelberg said...

I would also just try to avoid being around kids a lot. Good luck - what a pain.
My husband actually got Rubella while we were living in Boston. They never figured out where he caught it. It was a big deal and he was quarantined, as was one guy from his work who hadn't had the vaccine (just in case). He was immunized but I guess he was in that small percentage for whom the vaccination fails.

Betsy said...

Hi,

I was told this same thing when I was pregnant with my first child. It made me very stressed out. After he was a few months old I went in to be tested again. Lo and behold, I was immune again. Second pregnancy was no problem and I am still immune. Go figure.

Good luck!
Betsy

G in Berlin said...

I am so sorry! And yes, you might want to get that titer taken again, but the MMR was one of those vaccines that had problem. The problems were in my age cohort, though and I thought had been fixed by yours. (I had measles as a child and was revaccinated and thengiven another booster before college, but I thought American vaccines were effective again by 1967?
I would not cancel all those trips, but I would become extremely conscious of possibility of infection and avoiding allowing coughing, sneezing people around and also stay out of subways, wash hands constantly (wet wipes) and so on. I'm glad that you are asking your doctor!

meno said...

There's a;ways something to worry about when you are pregnant, most of it is not important. But it's hard to know which is which.

zerodoll said...

your doctor really should have tested for this a while ago. believe it or not, a woman in my book club had measles about 6 months ago, so please be very careful!

kenju said...

Stay away from kids!! That's all I know to do.

Blogging Mama said...

I think the most important thing to know is how it spreads. There were several cases last year at my sons school. I'm sure you don't have to avoid everyone but its always good to be cautious (I would hope if someone was sick they wouldn't be out but who knows!)

Cairo Typ0 said...

I echo those folks suggesting you avoid children if possible. Have your doctor fill you in on how the disease is spread and simply try to be careful. :(

christina said...

Oh my. Well, at least you know now and can take precautions. Unfortunately there are still large groups of Germans who refuse to get their kids vaccinated against measles so it can be a problem here. Actually, besides avoiding children, getting out of Germany is probably the best thing you can do right now - go for the U.S. trip and the cruise and you should be just fine.

ms chica said...

Protect yourself with a constant circle of lysol?

Charlotte said...

Welcome to pregnancy land where your next lethal worry is always around the corner.

I had all three (mumps, measles, and rubella) when I was a child and got my immunity that way. In fact, my ob didn't even ask about that ...

To reduce the freakout, and to estimate your risk correctly (other than giving in to the doctor-induced panic), have you tried finding any percentages of rubella infections among adults in Germany? Along with that, have you tried finding teratogenicity percentages? Honestly, once you find out what the approximate risk rate is, you might be able to sleep better (at least I always do).

Sending many hugs.

Sue Jacquette said...

Purel is your friend!

Sara said...

I don't have any advice other than to avoid kids! I'm un-vaccined for chicken pox and feel like the ONLY person who didn't have them as a kid, so I'm counting my blessings there hasn't been an outbreak lately. Take care!

Anonymous said...

Ahhh apparently with rubella it's quite common for you to lose your immunity. Ive known a few friends who have foudn that out when they were pregnant and had the routine test- and all had been immunised in Yr6 at school

Big hugs. IT's a worry, but I dont think your sanity will survive if you lock yourself away.

Justine

Simple Answer said...

Chicken pox ran amok around here. So do be careful - but have faith. The worrying you are starting to do now? It just gets worse. At some point you just have to have faith because there is not one blessed thing you can do.

Ron said...

Hi Diane!

Hey...but it's a great thing that your MD found this out, so you can take precautions.

Charlette's advice sounds great! This way you may feel less worried about.

In the meantime...I'll be sending you much "good thoughts and energy" your way!

Be well!

Vodka Mom said...

just be careful....course if you HAD been careful you wouldn't be IN this mess. ...

Rositta said...

Shite, what a horrible place to be in. I agree with everyone else, stay away from kids and use Purell...ciao