Common and Scientific Name
· Herpes zoster, also known as shingles, herpes, and zoster, is caused by a virus called Varicella zoster virus (VZV), the same virus that causes chickenpox/varicella.
· VZV is a type of herpesvirus, which are made up of a large, double-stranded DNA genome core, enclosed by a nucleocapsid, surrounded by a protein coat, encased in a lipid envelope.
· Herpesvirales, Herpesviridae, Alphaherpesvirinae, Varicellovirus, Human herpesvirus 3
· Painful red rash or stripe of blisters form, followed by a lot of pain, itching, or tingling in the area.
· These form on either side of the torso, and sometimes around one eye or on one side of the neck/face (nerves are affected).
· It may also be accompanied by fever, headache, sensitivity to light, fatigue, chills, and/or upset stomach.
Mode of Transmission
· Active shingle lesions are infectious until they dry and crust over and can spread the virus through direct contact.
· VZV is also transmissible through respiratory routes and is highly contagious this way.
· Pregnant women can pass down the disease to child/newborn.
· VZV is found worldwide but is more common in temperate climate regions.
· There is no cure for shingles, but antiviral drugs can speed healing and lower the chance of complications.
· The chickenpox and shingles vaccines may help prevent shingles.
· However, this doesn’t guarantee you won’t get the viral infection, but it can reduce degree of the disease and likelihood of complications.
· After anyone has had chickenpox, the virus remains inactive in the person but can reactivate later by a weakened immune system (50+ years old) and result in shingles.
A recent study estimated that 96 deaths are caused by herpes zoster each year and about 1-4% of infected people get hospitalized because of complications.