The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a live zoster vaccine, marketed under name Zostavax, in 2006. A single dose of vaccine is recommended for most people 60 and older, whether or not they have already had shingles. In clinical trials, the vaccine cut the risk of shingles by half. The vaccine was even more effective in reducing the risk of postherpetic pain that lingers after shingles has disappeared.
At times, pain and sensitivity might be felt along the path of the affected nerve branch, even after the visible signs of the viral infection disappear. This condition is called postherpetic neuralgia. The timely diagnosis and treatment of shingles with antiviral drugs can lower the risk of postherpetic neuralgia.
You cannot get shingles from someone who has shingles. However, it is possible for someone who has not had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine to get chickenpox from someone with shingles. This is uncommon and requires direct contact with the fluid from the shingles blisters. For more information about chickenpox and the chickenpox vaccine, see HealthLinkBC File #44a Facts About Chickenpox and HealthLinkBC File #44b Chickenpox (Varicella) Vaccine.
When you hear that a loved one has shingles, it’s natural to wonder whether or not you need to keep your distance. Especially if what they have is a painful rash. But before you upset your shingles-ridden grandmother by treating her like someone out of Contagion, know this: You can’t exactly catch shingles from somebody—but you can catch chickenpox from them.
It is the activity of the virus in the nerve that causes the pain associated with shingles. Not only has the virus used the nerve cells as its home for years, but as soon as it reawakens, it starts using the nerve as a highway to travel towards the skin. This causes the pain and irritation felt even before the rash appears. When it reaches the skin, the blisters form, and the virus life cycle runs its course with new infectious virus being shed from the blisters to susceptible individuals coming into contact with the shingles rash. But often it has a very unpleasant after-effect, known as post-herpetic neuralgia.
^ Johnson, Robert W; Alvarez-Pasquin, Marie-José; Bijl, Marc; Franco, Elisabetta; Gaillat, Jacques; Clara, João G; Labetoulle, Marc; Michel, Jean-Pierre; Naldi, Luigi; Sanmarti, Luis S; Weinke, Thomas (2015). “Herpes zoster epidemiology, management, and disease and economic burden in Europe: A multidisciplinary perspective”. Therapeutic Advances in Vaccines. 3 (4): 109–20. doi:10.1177/2051013615599151. PMC 4591524 . PMID 26478818.
It may also vote to recommend the vaccine on a preferential basis — in other words, suggest that doctors use the GSK vaccine over the Merck one. At a meeting of the committee in June, a CDC vaccine expert who heads a Shingrix work group, Dr. Kathleen Dooling, alerted the ACIP to the fact the work group was leaning toward proposing a preferential recommendation for the new vaccine.
There is no known cure for shingles, but treatment soon after the outbreak can shorten the duration and minimise the complications. A health care professional should be called when any of the following symptoms are experienced:
Nearly one in three people in the U.S. will get shingles, a painful, blistering rash, at some point in their lifetime. It can strike years or decades after having chickenpox, the itchy, red-pocked childhood ailment caused by the varicella zoster virus that was an uncomfortable rite of passage before the varicella vaccine was added to the lineup of pediatric shots in the U.S. in the mid-1990s. But what is shingles, exactly, and what’s the chickenpox connection?
Luckily, on October 20, 2017, Shingrix, GlaxoSmithKline’s recombinant zoster vaccine (adjuvanted) against shingles was licensed by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for adults aged 50 and older. This article will tell you a little bit about the vaccine and what there is to come in the immunization world.
According to studies done since the 1990s, all of these strategies have shown some benefit in reducing pain symptoms and other shingles symptoms, even when used without standard or conventional prescription treatments. One study published in the Journal of Therapeutics found that alternative therapies combined with selected medications, showed an average pain reduction of 72.1 percent to 77 percent in patients with herpes zoster. Almost two-thirds of the 56 patients with long-term pain reported pain reductions of between 75 percent and 100 percent. (13)
The causative agent for shingles is the varicella zoster virus (VZV) – a double-stranded DNA virus related to the Herpes simplex virus. Most individuals are infected with this virus as children which causes an episode of chickenpox. The immune system eventually eliminates the virus from most locations, but it remains dormant (or latent) in the ganglia adjacent to the spinal cord (called the dorsal root ganglion) or the trigeminal ganglion in the base of the skull.
^ Terada K, Hiraga Y, Kawano S, Kataoka N (1995). “Incidence of herpes zoster in pediatricians and history of reexposure to varicella-zoster virus in patients with herpes zoster”. Kansenshogaku Zasshi. 69 (8): 908–12. PMID 7594784.
Scientists don’t know exactly why some people develop shingles and others don’t, but there are some common risk factors. It tends to flare up in people with weakened immune systems, including HIV and cancer patients, and organ transplant patients who take immune-suppressing medications to prevent organ rejection. Stress or trauma may play a role. Shingles also may be age-related, since it mostly affects older adults, especially people who are 60 to 80 years old.
The shingles rash can be a distinctive cluster of fluid-filled blisters — often in a band around one side of the waist. This explains the term “shingles,” which comes from the Latin word for belt. The next most common location is on one side of the forehead or around one eye. But shingles blisters can occur anywhere on the body.