Islanders in Jersey are being offered free vaccines against shingles during the year of their 70th birthday, and below is some information about the virus.
What is shingles?
- Shingles is an infection of a nerve and the area of skin around it.
- It is caused by the herpes virus, called varicella-zoster, but it is unknown what triggers the virus.
- It is the same virus which causes chickenpox.
- Following the chickenpox infection, the virus can lie dormant in the nervous tissue but may reappear following reactivation as shingles.
- It is possible to have shingles more than once.
Dr Chad Taylor, Consultant in Pain Medicine, says the virus can lay dormant for years.
- It can cause burning blisters and severe pain, which can last for up to two years.
- Any part of your body can be affected, including your face and eyes, although the chest and abdomen are most common.
- Your body's immune system attacks the virus, which leads to an inflammatory response around the nerve, which is what causes the pain.
- It can destroy the nerve which is being affected.
- People have described the pain as a burning pain, or an electric shock pain
- In rare cases, it can cause blindness and be fatal.
- The immune system is the only way to defeat the virus.
- That is why immunisation is so important when dealing with the virus.
- Islanders in Jersey are now being offered free vaccines against shingles during the year of their 70th birthday.
Source (UK Government website/Dr Chad Taylor)