Is shingles contagious?

Shingles is a painful viral infection that can affect anyone who has had chicken pox. It is not possible to pass on shingles.

However, a person who has never had chicken pox or its vaccine can get the chicken pox virus from someone with shingles, develop chicken pox, then later develop shingles.

Chicken pox is a viral infection that occurs when a person is exposed to the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). This is a type of herpes virus.

A person with the VZV may develop chicken pox. After the symptoms of chicken pox go away, the virus stays latent in the body. Later, it can reactivate as herpes zoster, which is shingles.

For years, the virus can remain inactive. It stays dormant in a dorsal root ganglion of the peripheral nervous system, sensory nerve tissue close to the spinal cord. At some point, the VZV can reactivate and trigger the symptoms of shingles.

Over 99% of people born in the United States before 1980 have had chicken pox. In other words, nearly everyone in that age group has the VZV……….

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