Research presented at the annual Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy suggests that too few American adults have been vaccinated for shingles. Researchers found that less than 20 percent of Americans ages 60 and older have been vaccinated, while the rate is less than half that for those in their 50s.
Shingles is a viral infection that causes painful rashes. The virus, varicella-zoster, is the same virus that causes chicken pox. Since a chicken pox breakout, usually experienced during childhood, the virus lies dormant and inactive in the nerve tissue near your spinal cord and brain. When the shingles virus is reactivated, it can appear anywhere on your body, but most often appears as single strips of blisters that wrap around the sides of your torso.
In order to determine if you have shingles, look for these key symptoms:
- Pain, burning, numbness, tingling
- Red rash
- Fluid-filled blister that break open and crust over
- Fever, chills and aches
One or all of these symptoms could be an indication of an activated shingle virus, however the most common one is pain and blisters. You’re at risk of developing shingles if you’re older than the age of 50. Some experts estimate that half of those over the age of 85 have or will experience shingles at some point in their lives. Certain disease that weaken the immune system can increase risk, along with cancer treatments, medications and the prolonged use of steroids.