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Shingles

What is shingles?
What are the symptoms of shingles?
How is shingles spread?
How can I keep from getting shingles?
If I’ve been exposed to shingles, how long will it take for symptoms to develop?
What treatments are available for shingles? How serious is the disease?
How many cases of shingles have been reported in Northern Kentucky?
Where can I get more information on shingles?

What is shingles?
Shingles is a painful skin rash. It is caused by the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. The virus remains in the body after a person has recovered from chickenpox and can reappear years or even decades later in the form of shingles.

What are the symptoms of shingles?
The symptoms of shingles include: a painful, itchy rash that begins on one side of the face or body, fever, headache, chills, and upset stomach
 
How is shingles spread?
Shingles cannot be spread from person-to-person. However, the virus that causes shingles can be spread to a person who has never had chickenpox through direct contact with the rash. The person exposed to the virus will develop chickenpox, not shingles.

How can I keep from getting shingles?

If I’ve been exposed to shingles, how long will it take for symptoms to develop?
The initial symptoms of shingles can occur years or even decades after recovering from chickenpox.

What treatments are available for shingles? How serious is the disease?Elderly woman gets a vaccine, photo courtesy of the Public Health Image Library
Several medicines, such as Zovirax, Valtrex and Famvir, are available to shorten the duration of the disease and lessen the severity of symptoms. Pain medications may also be prescribed to alleviate the pain associated with shingles.

A vaccination is also available for shingles, but it is not available through the Health Department at this time, though many local doctors' offices and pharmacies carry it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 60 years of age and older receive the vaccine.

How many cases of shingles have been reported in Northern Kentucky?
Providers are not required to report cases of shingles to the Health Department, so case numbers are not available.

Where can I get more information on shingles?
For more information online, you can visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or call the Health Department at 859.363.2070

Sources: Northern Kentucky Health Department; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention