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Zoster (Herpes) Virus

What you need to know about Zoster(Herpes) Virus. The virus also known as Varicella Zoster is the same virus that causes chickenpox. After recovering from chickenpox the virus remains dormant or inactive for many years. Then years later it may become active again. It is unclear as to why it reactivates. People who are most at risk for getting the Shingles virus are people age 60 or older. Also people who have compromised immune systems.

It is estimated that one million cases of Shingles is diagnosed in the United States each year. You can not get this virus unless you have had chickenpox at some point in your life, usually in childhood. If a person that has not had chickenpox comes in to contact with the person with active Shingles(after the rash crusts over) then they can get ill. However, they will get chickenpox and not Shingles. The virus starts out as a rash on one side of the body or face.

Treatments options include getting a vaccination for the Shingles virus. This vaccine is only approved for people 60 years of age and older. If you come down with the virus you should seek medical attention as soon as the rash appears. If the anti viral medications are started right away then they should help with the length and severity of the illness. Pain medications are also prescribed as the illness can be extremely painful. There may be long term complications as well. The most common one is a condition called post herpetic neuralgia (PHN). The pain from PHN can be severe and debilitating. PHN is more common in people who get the virus at 60 years of age and older.  It is important to know that the virus Zoster(Herpes) is not the same virus that causes genital herpes

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