We provide information and advice on the cause, treatments, history, infectivity and research regarding the Herpes Zoster virus. "Shingles," or herpes zoster, is a painful and sometimes debilitating viral disease that afflicts nearly one million Americans annually. The Herpes Zoster virus can remain in a latent state in the body for many years, often from the time of a childhood episode of the chickenpox. As people age, their immune system naturally weakens, and in some cases, Herpes zoster can reactivate. The virus normally lays dormant in dermatosomal nerve cells, but in some people the virus reactivates and its spread to the dermatome causes the herpes zoster rash.
Anyone who has had a Varicella chickenpox infection can manifest the Herpes zoster virus that causes shingles,
often years or decades later. Statistics show that about 20 percent of individuals who have had chickenpox will
eventually develop herpes zoster shingles. Patients with herpes zoster are contagious to those who lack immunity.
Unlike herpes simplex I, another alpha herpes virus, the varicella-zoster virus (VZV) does not usually flare up
more than once in adults with normally functioning immune systems. Shingles most commonly occurs in older adults.
Here is some excellent advice on shingles and the Shingles Vaccine from the Mayo Clinic:
Shingles is caused by a particular type of herpes virus, Varicella zoster. Varicella zoster virus ( VZV ) is a member of the alpha herpes virus family. VZV is an alpha herpes virus that causes two diseases, chickenpox and zoster (the reactivation of the virus that causes shingles). Like its close relative, HHV1, herpes zoster infects skin cells and nerve cells. Reactivation of the latent virus in neurosensory ganglia produces the characteristic manifestations of herpes zoster, commonly known as shingles. In 1888, it was suggested by von Bokay that chickenpox and herpes zoster were both caused by the same agent, now known to be the VZV virus.
Shingles blisters are caused by the Varicella-Zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. Later, if the virus becomes reactivated, the symptoms migrate to the dermatomes. Approximately 10-20% of people will develop shingles symptoms during their lifetime. Chickenpox and shingles are diagnosed by clinical examination and symptoms.
The first symptoms of shingles are often intense pain, burning or tingling on an area of skin on the trunk or face, almost always on one side of the body only. The initial symptoms of shingles can be hard to diagnose and may include tingling, burning, itching, or even shooting pain.
What are the causes, spread, treatment and prevention of shingles? Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) is still referred to by separate terms: • Varicella: the primary infection that causes chickenpox.
• Herpes zoster: the reactivation of the virus that causes shingles.
The virus that causes herpes zoster is the same virus that causes chickenpox (varicella). Resulting from a reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus, shingles plagues the skin and nervous tissues.
Shingles can affect people of all ages, not just the elderly. The primary goal in the treatment of shingles is the reduction of pain and avoidance of further complications, including post-herpetic neuralgia. Those suffering from shingles experience painful eruptions of blister-like substances, which can recur without treatment. The best hope for shortening the duration of pain after shingles is early diagnosis and treatment with anti-viral medications. Early diagnosis and treatment of shingles is very important for adults over 50. This is important because the possible complications, such as PHN, can be serious and resistant to treatment.