- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Wanted: a More Effective Chickenpox Vaccine that also Protects against Herpes Zoster
Electron microscope in 1950s (Photo from Mononucleosis and other Infectious Diseases.1989:76)
The varicella vaccine against chickenpox gives the virus that will cause herpes zoster
Herpesvirus varicellazoster causes chickenpox. It also causes herpes zoster. This is different from the herpes that is transmitted sexually (Herpesvirus hominis). Herpes zoster is also called shingles or zona.
Virus are very small; they can neither be seen by the naked eye nor by the optical microscope. They can be studied with the use of electron microscope (see photo above).
Varicella vaccine is given for protection against chickenpox. The vaccinated person gets a mild fever that is actually the body’s way to protect itself against infection. High temperature is an attempt of the body to slow down the microbe or kill it. Some microbes die at 40C. That is why it is not always advisable to suppress the fever with cold compress right away. In one way, fever is a warning of microbial attack.
Fever shows that the body is fighting the microbe. In the case of the vaccination, the body fights the foreign invader, be it a fungus, or a bacteria, or a virus or a killed microbe vaccine, or an artificial vaccine.
Components of the immune system (macrophage, T-helper cells, T-killer cells found in white blood cells) mount a fight against the microbe. The macrophage marks the invaders with an antigen. The T-killer cells find the invaders by targeting the antigen and produces a weapon against them, called antibody. T-cells reproduce very fast by means of cloning; one T cell can turn into millions. The antibody latches on the surface of the invader changing its shape and size. A microbe or invader whose size and shape had been changed cannot enter the cell. Thus the microbe cannot infect. The macrophages play the biggest role by wrapping around each microbe or invader. The macrophage with a load of microbe or invader will be ejected from the body. When the immune system will have won most of the T cells and B cells will die off, some will remain alive as Memory cells. These will recognize any foreign body of the same shape and size that will attempt to infect and mount another battle like in the first encounter.Vaccination is successful. You can say that memory cells are the bases of vaccination. The macrophage can literally "eat" even asbestos fibers.
The varicella vaccine against chickenpox contains herpesvirus varicellazoster that are alive but weakened. That is, its virus are weaker than the wild type virus.
The vaccinated fellow will get well from the fever without being infected by chickenpox. However, some virus in the vaccinated person travel to lodge on the roots of the spinal cord nerves. There they remain dormant. When the same fellow becomes weak, or his immune system becomes weak, turns old and suffers from stress, the chickenpox virus will reawaken and infect. The disease it causes is called herpes zoster. The blisters are similar to that of chickenpox accompanied by extreme pain.
Our concern is that the varicella vaccine cannot give complete protection against herpes zoster. A person given varicella vaccine will still get sick of herpes zoster when conditions reawaken the virus. He gets the varicella virus from the varicella vaccine (Offit, P. A. MD and L. M. Hell, MD. Vaccines: What Every Parent Should Know. 1999:83-90).
This is why we need a varicella vaccine that eliminates the virus completely from body of a vaccinated person. Or a person infected by the wild type virus. This vaccine is still effective after infection by the wild type in about 3 to five days. It will not matter if we will have to have booster shots of the vaccine.
Can a killed herpesvirus varicellazoster vaccine be made? It is like the killed-poliovirus vaccine invented by Dr. Jonas Salk and his team against the polio bug. This vaccine is not a source of virus that can multiply and infect or reinfect.
The Salk killed-poliovirus vaccine is unlike the oral attenuated polio vaccine invented by Dr. Albert Sabin. The person vaccinated with the oral polio vaccine can infect another person who had not been vaccinated. This is the reason why since 2000 the oral polio vaccine has not been administered in the United States (Kluger, J. Splendid Solution, Dr. Jonas Salk and the Conquest of Polio. 2009).
I have a Hub on the track record of polio victims in the United States from 1916 to 2003, another Hub on a theory of how the Salk killed-polio vaccine can incite immunization; another Hub on outbreak of herpes zoster. The Salk vaccine prevents infection by and multiplication of polio virus. .
Chickenpox virus is like the hepatitis B virus. The infected person when he gets well will not completely eliminate hepatitis B virus. Some virus remain that will cause cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) and liver cancer. The hepatitis B vaccine consists of protein coats of the virus.
Hepatitis B virus has a protein coat around its DNA, the heredity material. There are more protein coats than there are DNA. The protein coat can be separated from the DNA. The gene that controls the production of protein coat had been identified, inserted in a bacteria. Bacteria serve as factory of protein coats. This technology is called recombinant DNA of biological engineering.
The latest clinical finding is that hepatitis B can be treated by infusion chelation therapy. Dr. Arturo V. Estuita, MD, a Filipino internist and chelationist, has treated 10 patients since March 2012.
Can infusion chelation therapy eliminate herpesvirus varicellazoster? Clinical practice or medical research should find that out.
Some Hubers and readers responding to my question in Hubpages if herpes zoster can recur say that it can recur after the first attack. The reason is that some virus reside in the body. A microbe can double its population every 20 minutes that is why a reawakened virus can multiply to infect a carrier of herpes zoster virus.
The vaccine Zostavax is given against herpes zoster. However, it cannot give complete protection.
"While Zostavax will not prevent Shingles in every person, it does make the virus much weaker than if you had not gotten the vaccine. The majority of people who take the vaccine will have protection from the virus" (LoverOfLife. Singles vaccine. Internet. December 29,2012)
What we need is a vaccine that will not allow the chickenpox virus to get inside any cell of the body.
Herpes zoster caused by virus coming from the varicella vaccine is less severe than that caused by the wild type virus. So, there is a choice between two evils. Go for a varicella vaccine or get the wild type virus. In both cases you get herpes zoster. The choice is go for varicella vaccine, the lesser evil. The circle plays out.
New entries as of Jan. 5,2013
Possibility of more than one type of chickenpox virus
It is possible that chickenpox virus consists of more than one type. One type is prevented by the varicella vaccine from infecting; the other is allowed. This case might be similar to the poliovirus.
Poliovirus Type I was “the one most likely to lead to epidemics and paralysis of the limbs. Type II was a milder virus than Type I, the likeliest to lead to asymptomatic cases, though in the weak or unlucky it could still paralyze or kill. Type III was the rarest of all and that was a very good thing since it was the one most likely to lead to bulbar polio, the infection of the medulla oblongata, the lower bulb of the brain, leading to paralysis of the diaphragm, destruction of breathing, and so often death….” (Kluger, J. Splendid Solution, Jonas Salk and the Conquest of Polio. 2004:99-100).
The Salk killed-poliovirus vaccine takes care of all three types of polio virus. The first research Dr. Salk did on poliovirus was to identify its types. He presented his results in an international conference in Copenhagen.
The possibilities of two types of chickenpox virus is worth looking into. It is possible that one type of chickenpox virus causes chickenpox; another type causes herpes zoster. The present varicella vaccine prevents infection by chickenpox type but leaves the herpes zoster type alone. If chickenpox virus will prove to be of two types, a varicella vaccine should be developed that takes care of them both. Or one vaccine for each type must be developed.
Another tact is to use a new mother stock of the varicella vaccine. This method had been adopted in another virus vaccine. New generations are grown from a new wild type to come up with weakened stocks. It is like domesticating wild horses. The siblings of wild horses that had been raised in captivity will be tame. The next generation siblings will be even tamer. And so on.