Shingleshingles are caused by the Herpes Zoster virus and early identification and prompt treatment with antiviral drugs reduces symptoms and leads to reduced risk of ongoing nerve pain.1 Infection causes a painful blistering rash and it is more common in older people. It affects 3.5 per 1000 person-years among 50–54 year olds to 7.1 per 1000 person-years among 75–79 year olds.2 In England 50,000 people over the age of 70 develop shingles every year.3 Around 40% of people infected experience ongoing nerve pain lasting three months or longer and one person in a thousand over the age of 70 dies as a result of infection.4 People who are at greatest risk of infection can now be immunised. Immunisation can reduce the risks of shingles by 75%.5 Shingles is a painful blistering rash caused by reactivation of varicella zoster virus, the chickenpox virus. It is correctly known as herpes zoster.
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