Charge with Chickenpox--Advice needed!

Received Sunday, March 16, 2008- Perspective & Opinion
Hi everyone. Please forgive me, as this is not a nanny sighting, but I do need some advice ASAP and I truly enjoy reading all the advice/comments given on this sight, so I am hoping someone can help me! My seven year old charge has the chickenpox. She is still contagious as she is getting new spots ever day, and many have not "broken" yet. I have never had the chickenpox, and am 23 years old. From what I have read, chickenpox for adults is much worse than for children, so I do not want to contract them! My problem is this: I am a live-in aupair in Europe. My "host parents" have said that the little girl will be staying home from school the whole week, and I am supposed to stay with her. Under normal circumstances, I would not mind watching her while she is sick. But, to me, this is a bit more serious. Would I be out of line if I (not refused outright), but politely said that I do not feel comfortable doing this? Especially since both of her parents have already had the chickenpox. Thank you very much! I appreciate any response given!


Anonymous said...

Just get the vaccine. I never had it either, but I got the vaccine, so I am safe.

Anonymous said...

OP here, I brought that idea up with my hostmom, and she said that there is no vaccine available here.

observer said...

I was always told that you were exposed to the chickenpox virus 10 days prior to seeing the spots. I would double check with a doctor, but you probably have already been exposed to the virus. You may be a carrier, but never actually get the chickenpox. I would assume you would have been exposed many times to them in elementary school.

Kate in PA said...

Please don't think that just because you got the vaccine you are safe. It is not 100% effective. My previous charges both got the vaccine yet they both contracted chicken pox less than a year later. Granted, it was a lot less severe than it would have been without the vaccine, but they still got it. So don't bet on the fact you won't get it.

OP- You would not be out of line asking for the week off and away from the child if possible. Explain that you want to keep healthy so you can continue to take good care of your charge. If you did get chicken pox, think of how much time you would need off should get very sick. I would explain your concerns and request the week off. You definitely won't get the week off if you don't ask!

Kate in PA said...

* should *you* get very sick

Anonymous said...

I don't understand everyone who is downplaying how severe this can be. Chickenpox as a childhood illness is not very serious. However my brother contracted it at 17 and he was EXTREEMLY ill. He was light sensitive and bedridden for TWO WEEKS. At 22 I don't even want to think what it could be like. I have heard of adults going to hospital. Not to say this happens in every case - but I totally understand your wariness in this situation.

And personally - I am of the opinion that it is NOT a nannies job to tend to a sick child. ESPECIALLY if she is at risk of serious illness. At some point the line between parent and nanny needs to be drawn and I believe this is it.

If I were you I would arrange a time to speak with BOTH parents together, and put forward your fears (perhaps armed with some printed information from the internet about he severity of chickenpox in adults) and just voice your concerns. Let them know that you would usually be more than happy to care for her, but that you feel in this situation there are extenuating circumstances and you don't feel comfortable caring for the sick child. Mention that if you WERE to get sick chances are you would be out for even longer anyway.

I hope this has been helpful.

chick said...

You've already been exposed, but I think that it can't hurt to make your case to your employers. The worst they can do is say no.

I would DEFINITELY get their promise, even in writing, to cover all treatment costs for you if you do get sick, and to give you all the time off you need to recover without dipping into any contractual time off. Asking for that might make them thonk twice about making you work!

chick said...

Also, an FYI - vaccines take a little time to become effective, at least generally speaking. Getting the vax at this point will not help you right now.

star bellied sneetch said...

There is no way the vaccine will help you at this point. It is way too late. You have definitely already been exposed assuming you have been caring for the child regularly in the days before the rash developed. I would not worry about it at this point since you have already been exposed. This is part of the job and it is too late for you. If you knew you'd be caring for kids, I wonder why you did not get this vaccine for yourself before this endeavor. In any case, the only thing you can do is try to be more careful about washing your hands, don't share towels & pillows, etc., but don't go too crazy because you have surely already been exposed. People are the most contagious BEFORE the rash appears.

If you catch the chicken pox you will be okay. It is a more serious illness in adults than in children, but you seem to be young and in good health so there is nothing to worry about in any serious way.

FNG said...

You've already been exposed but no need to expose yourself more. CP is worse in adults and much more so for men. Call your doctor first thing and ask their advice.

Anonymous said...

Where on earth are you that they don't have Chickenpox vaccine? Don't take your employer's word for it, check with a Dr. or clinic. Even if you have already been exposed, and don't get it this time, get the vaccination for the future. Not only is it severe in adults, but if you do get Chickenpox, you may then get shingles later, which is very serious.

Anonymous said...

You have already been exposed to it. If you DO get sick, you are probably insured so no medical fees concerns there! I hope you're a legal au pair (not on tourist visa).

Anonymous said...

OP here-Thanks for all the comments. The doctor said that, even though she is contagious, she can go to school, therefore minimizing the need for me to be around much. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

You have already been exposed if you can see the pox on the little girl. Hopefully you have a good immune system and won't get them or if you do, won't get too sick.
It's been to have had them than not.

Anonymous said...

The Dr. said she could go to school contagious? Am I missing something? Why infect all the other children?

As for the OP ... my best friend contracted CP and later Shingles and it seemed to have taken her forever to recover.

I think those parents are selfish, and I feel sorry for you.
Good luck and please let us know what happens!

Anonymous said...

I'd talk to the agency that brought you over here. I think the parents are being very selfish given your situation. Stay away from the child until she isn't contagious. It's your health and your life and that is most important, not that they can't miss a few days of work.

Sue Doe-Nim said...

I had chickenpox at 17. I remember walking barefoot in the snow because my feet felt like they were on fire.

I also cried for 3-4 days because the pain was unrelenting.

It's the sickest I've ever been.

I cannot believe that any human being would be willing to risk your health that way.

I cannot believe that people who are (allegedly - I have no proof) parenting young children would not be more sensitive to people in the world around them.

I would take this entire event as a very strong caution to GET OUT.

It's disgusting that they would treat you like you aren't really a person with feelings.

Anonymous said...

sue doe,
when i read the article about spanking causing children to have sexual dysfunction later in life, i thought of you and a previous argument we had. suffice to say, I win.

ess said...

OP, it's too late for you to avoid exposure to chicken pox, but I have heard that getting a shot of gamma globulin can help lessen symptoms if administered before you get sick. You might want to talk to a doctor to see if this is an option.

Also, do you know why the doctor thought it would be all right to send the little girl to school in spite of being contagious?

I don't think you should assume that the parents are trying to take advantage of you or be insensitive - they can't intuit the position you are in unless you talk to them about it.

Sue Doe-Nim said...

I know you all love to hate me and the pot shots must be thrilling to you.

1. I think the OP should look for a job where the employers are caring.
2. Each of my children have been spanked once. Each of my children darted into the street and I spanked them. If you think this makes me a bad mother I have nothing to offer you.
3. My children will never have a nanny because my niece was shaken violently by a nanny. The nanny spent 11 years in prison. My niece is fine and approaching adulthood.
4. If you MUST work it's quite likely that I'll be your biggest supporter. Problem is that most parents don't fall into this category.

I'm sorry that I have such horrible views. I'm so sorry that I think nannies are human and should be treated as such.

If you're busy attacking me perhaps you should look inward and try to figure out what makes my choice to raise my own children such a hot button issue for you.


Anonymous said...

The child is contagious until one day at least after the rash has broken, you probably have been exposed.
It is very likely that you have been exposed to the virus as a child, even if you did not develop the disease. I think it may be late for the vaccine, but I too have heard of gamma globulin. Definitely contact your doctor. When my kids got chicken pox I made a point of asking my nanny if she was immunized before she even set foot in my home. Had she said no, I would not have let her take care of my kids.

Rebecca said...

I looked into being an au pair and I distinctly remember reading (many times) that it's illegal for an au pair to work more than 25 hours a week or so. It might be different in different places, but I don't think it's EVER supposed to approach full-time, so asking you to stay home with a sick kid all week is out of line, on more than one level.

motheroffive said...

Sue Doe,

I do have to agree with you on the spanking. I have only spanked three of my children and that was once each.

They know that there are only two reasons that they will get a spanking:
1. Running into the road, no matter the reason

2. Going on the/ a pool ladder with no adult present (and we clearly explained who an appropriate "adult" was).

My twins and their friend climbed on the pool ladder trying to get a ball out that they had thrown in (my twins got a spanking right away and their friend got one from her mom when she came to get her) and my oldest boy darted into the street when his basketball went in the road. All three got spankings and all three have never done it since.

I would much rather spank them for something as serious as going near the pool and running in the road and never have them do it again then risk having them drown or get hit by a car.

If this makes me a bad mother, so be it. NO ONE will change my mind about this. It is what my mother did and I only ever ran in the road once.

fox in socks said...

Sue doe, I'm with you. Except for the spanking. Never lay a violent hand on your child. Never never.

Everyone, the best way to change behaviors in children is to reward positive behaviors, no matter how small the positive behaviors may be. Praise and reward the tiny tiny things they do which are a step in the right direction. This is far more effective than negative means of any kind, including corporal punishments like spanking. This is well established in child psychology and child development. There is no question on this issue from dominant experts in the fields.

Anonymous said...

fox in socks
you rock! my sentiments exactly!
I never had to spank mine. I sat them down, explained the rules, then took each for a walk and told them how to properly avoid cars, cross streets, etc.
This is something they needed to learn anyway and they NEVER ran into the street, not even ONCE.

Anonymous said...

sue do nim sounds perfectly reasonable to every respect.

OP, you've been exposed already. Better to get them now, if you're not already immune, than when you're older, or, tragically, pregnant...which could prove devastating for your child.
If you don't get them this time, be sure to go to your doctor and get immunized immediately.

Anonymous said...

OP-To try to answer everyones in Switzerland, and the doctor said there is some sort of the law here that allows him to release the child back to school if she does not have a fever and isnt feeling "sick." So, my little girl is covered in spots, and getting new ones everyday, but feels fine and is now in school.

And whomever mentioned that aupairs are not supposed to work over 25 hours...I wish! I think my contract says 30, if that, but there are sometimes, like school holidays, I work between 60-70 hours a week with no extra compensation, etc. Its the price of having to work with completely uninvolved parents. But its not just me. Many of my friends have to put up with the same things. And it is not just quite as easy as "find a new family". There are strict visa laws, etc, and I am in a completley foreign country^!

But, I know this is not a place to vent, so I wont! ;O) But really, thanks for all who commented. It made me realize that, like myself, there are people out there who do want the best for their children! I feel like I can say that like she is my child...Im bascially a mother who gets a paycheck! ;O)

§mpp§ said...

Op, I feel so sad for you. It sounds like you have it pretty rough.
And yes, you are absolutely allowed to vent here. Everyone does it at one time or another and if you want to open up more, please do.
It might make you feel a little better!

Most of the posters here are wonderfully supportive!

Anonymous said...

You people who spank for safety isuues are stupid. Why are your spanking the kid for your failure to keep your kids safe? Maybe you should whack yourselves on the butt. if your kids are running in the road or almost drowning in the pool, well hello? You aren't supervising them properly!

Anonymous said...

11:17 I have seen no parents post on this thread who seem to be abusive to their children. If a child does something really dangerous, yes, a swat on the behind, if it is a very rare occurence, will make a huge impression and help them realize how very important it is that they not do that again. Beating a child is a completely different issue and you are being silly in trying to lump the two situations into one category. It's like saying that correcting your child verbally always equates to verbal abuse (which does just as much damage as physical abuse.)It's just sort of ridicuous, and yet so many people feel free to jump up on their high horses and judge other parents for their child raising choices.

Anonymous said...

So you're saying it's NOT the parents fault they didn't teach their child - or better yet, take the time to do it properly?

It bothers me that a child would get whacked just to "make an impression" - that means "you don't want him to forget".

O.k., the kid will never walk out into the middle of the road again because he will remember getting whacked, instead of the real reason -- he needs to learn it's dangerous.

I think it's ridiculous to spank a child for safety infractions, too.
Now say - your child got into an awful habit of biting other kids, or spitting or something like that - THAT may warrant a pop on the behind!

§mpp§ said...

I have a question:

How many of you have heard of "Chicken Pox Parties"?

It's where a kid gets them, and then the Mom will invite other Mother's to bring their kids over to expose them to it and get it out of the way while they're still young. Mainly because it IS so serious when you're an adult.

What do all of you think about that? When I first heard it, I was dumbfounded. Why purposely expose your child to a disease?
But I have to tell you, now that I'm seeing just how dangerous it is if contracted later in life ... I'm not so sure that these Parents are that crazy.

I heard about this in the News and they say it's actually becoming a popular trend!

Anonymous said...

Everyone is jumping on the vaccine bandwagon. OP, you've been exposed. Hopefully in the country where you are they have herpes flair up medication. That's what they prescribe in the US to lessen the effects of the CP virus. Try to get a prescription for Zoviraz, Famvir, or Valtrex (don't know what they are called in your country). There is also an antiviral, which you could take immediately, Acyclovir which may prevent you from getting it altogether.

chick said...

mpp, chickenpox parties are, as far as I know, generally REALLY discouraged by Doctors. Why? Because it is possible for children to get viciously ill, or even die from having chicken pox.

(sorry I can't provide links - 'puter is having an issue. Google "chicken pox parties" and you'll see what I read!)

From a quick google, I gather that this trend is apparent more among granola/crunchy families, who either do not vax, or selectively vax. Their theory seems to be that getting a disease is better than getting vaccinated, because of the potential for vaccine side effects.

With the streptococcal issues these days, I would think the chance of getting an infected pox blister would be enough to scare people away from deliberately trying to get CP.

IMO, people who deliberately choose to chance their kids getting an illness which they could simply be vaccinated for are pretty stupid. What's next? Whooping Cough parties? Diptheria and Smallpox parties?

cali mom said...

1:29, I'm with you on the spankings and the necessity of parental supervision.

8:08. I know what you mean and I DESPISE that attitude. it's only because everyone ELSE gets their kids vaccinated that these freakin hippy dippies can have the choice NOT to vaccinate theirs, As for all the garbage about vaccines and other modern developments not being "natural", I hate to break it to them but plenty of natural things (Like hemlock) can kill them in a heartbeat.

fox in socks said...

My sister in law exposed her not yet 2 year old daughter purposefully at a chicken pox party. Only afterwards did she think to check if her husband ever had chicken pox. He did not ever remember having it. It was a huge mistake for her to take such a risk.

And it is very poor judgement to expose a child this little. Chicken pox, or any illness, can be much more serious in very young children.

She thought it was the most brilliant thing before she did it, and then saw her own foolishness later.

It was crazy and reckless if you ask me.

§mpp§ said...

I hadn't even thought to Google it, but out of curiosity I will.
Thanks so much for the input everyone!

Learn something new everyday, don't we? lol

nyc mom said...

Regarding au pair laws. Each country has their own rules, hours, and salary stipend. In the US regular au pairs work up to 45 hours a week, no more than 10 hours a day. There is also an Au Pair Education program where they work less hours for a lower stipend (and attend more classes). Having had au pairs with our family in the past I know there are huge misconceptions about the system that get thrown around. Several of the big agencies (au pair in america; educare; go au pair) have all the info on their website.