Chickenpox and shingles

Chickenpox and shingles

Chickenpox (varicella) and shingles (herpes zoster) are two different forms of disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is a deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) virus closely related to herpes simplex and Epstein-Barr viruses. Initial infection causes varicella, a common childhood infection characterized by fever, malaise, and a rash consisting of dozens to hundreds of small fluid-filled lesions (vesicles) that are individually surrounded by reddened skin. Successive crops of lesions appear that eventually ulcerate and crust over during the two-week course of the disease. The virus is spread from person to person by the highly infectious respiratory secretions and lesion drainage. Varicella is rarely a serious disease in normal children but can be severe in immunocompromised individuals or in the rare adult who escaped childhood infection. Primary infection results in immunity to a new varicella-zoster virus, but the original virus lies dormant in nerve ganglia cells. See Epstein-Barr virus, Herpes

At some time in their life, approximately 10% of the population suffers subsequent reactivation of latent virus, which spreads to the skin overlying the affected nerve and causes a localized eruption of vesicles called herpes zoster. The vesicles are similar in appearance and in infectiousness to varicella lesions. This syndrome is usually well tolerated, although elderly persons may develop chronic pain at the site of reactivation. Herpes zoster in immunocompromised individuals may be prolonged or may disseminate to vital organs.

Varicella or herpes zoster in a normal host is self-limited and does not typically require antiviral therapy. In individuals with underlying immune disorders, treatment with the antiviral drug acyclovir decreases the duration and severity of disease. See Animal virus

References in periodicals archive ?
When she asked why, I explained chickenpox and shingles are caused by the same virus which can behave differently, on the one hand causing chickenpox in children and on the other shingles in older people.
In England the chickenpox vaccine is not part of the routine childhood vaccination schedule as it's believed that giving it to all children could increase the risk of chickenpox and shingles in adults.
The shifting incidences of chickenpox and shingles, however, were predicted years before they occurred.
Working in conjunction with researchers in Leuven, Belgium, the team found BCNAs to be active agents against the varicella zoster virus (VZV), the cause of human chickenpox and shingles. Prof McGuigan said: "FV-100 has been developed thanks to an ethos of international innovation at Cardiff.
Anyone who has not had chickenpox should be told to avoid contact with chickenpox and shingles sufferers and they should let healthcare workers know if they might have been exposed, the RCOG said.
This National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded study is the first rigorous clinical trial to suggest that a behavioral intervention, alone or in combination with a vaccine, can help protect older adults from VZV, which causes both chickenpox and shingles.
'If and when such a vaccine is licensed we will consider all the evidence on its safety and efficacy in combating chickenpox and shingles.' Chickenpox can be fatal, especially in people with suppressed immune systems, and deaths from the disease in adults have increased over the past 30 years, despite the availability of a vaccine against it.
It can, however, also be used against chickenpox and shingles. Virtually everyone catches chickenpox as a child, which in fact is no bad thing because chickenpox in an adult can be very severe.
Chickenpox and shingles are caused by the varicella-zoster virus.
The virus that causes both chickenpox and shingles is known medically as the varicella-zoster virus (VZV).
This would leave them at risk of chickenpox and shingles at a greater age when they would be less able to fight it.