Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) causes chickenpox in children and shingles in adults. Over a lifetime 30% of people will get shingles.
People over 60 are 8-10 more likely to get shingles than younger adults. It is more likely to occur in people with compromised immunity.
Pain after the eruptions disappear can last for many weeks or months. This post shingles pain occurs in over 40% of people over 60.
The most common sites are on the face and thorax. The virus hits one dorsal-root ganglia and the nerve root loses its myelin. The chickenpox vaccine for children is an attenuated (weakened virus). Because older adults don’t respond well to vaccinations, a new vaccine was made with a LIVE virus that would result in 10 times as many plaques as the chickenpox virus.
It was felt that this dose of live virus would boost the immunity to lower the risk of shingles in the elderly. Should people over 60 routinely get this vaccination? New England Journal of Medicine, March 29,2007
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