Shingles – A Viral Infection with a Recommended Vaccine

Shingles pic
Shingles
Image: cdc.gov

Dr. Alexander Salerno is the lead physician with Salerno Medical Associates and strives to meet the health care needs of patients in New Jersey’s underserved urban neighborhoods. Dr. Alexander Salerno emphasizes patient education and offers a diversity of resources on issues ranging from identifying breast cancer to the safety of shingles vaccines.

Also known as herpes zoster, the viral infection shingles has symptoms that include painful blisters and skin rashes, typically on one side of the torso. The varicella zoster virus is also the cause of chicken pox, a common childhood disease. After chicken pox clears up, it stays dormant in the nerve tissues and can be reactivated when the immune system weakens, either because of age, disease, or stress.

Reactivated, the virus spreads along the skin’s nerve fibers and can linger as chronic pain for months or years, even after rashes subside. For this reason, shingles vaccine is recommended for adults past the age of 50. The vaccine is made up of attenuated varicella virus cells, which cause the body to produce antibodies that fight the infection and future shingles incidences. While not a cure-all, the vaccine does decrease the risk of contracting shingles by 70 percent.

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