Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is caused by the reactivation of a latent varicella zoster virus (VZV) infection. Primary VZV infection manifests as chickenpox, a highly contagious condition that is characterised by an itchy, vesicular rash. Following this initial infection, the virus enters the dorsal root ganglia and remains there as a permanent, dormant infection. Reactivation of this latent VZV infection, generally occurring decades later, causes shingles.
Approximately 1 in 4 people will develop shingles during their lifetime. Both the incidence and the severity of the condition increases with age. Older individuals are also more likely to develop secondary complications, such as bacterial skin infections and post-herpetic neuralgia (intractable pain).
The predominant symptom of shingles is pain, often with associated paraesthesia (pricking, tingling or numbness). This is followed by the development of a painful rash, similar in appearance to that of chickenpox, which forms itchy, fluid-filled blisters that usually persist for two to four weeks. These disturbances occur in a unilateral dermatomal distribution, corresponding to the ganglia in which the viral infection is located. Other symptoms may include headache, photophobia, malaise and fever.
Who is Eligible?
Patients born on or after 02/19/1942 are part of the routine programme and will become eligible as soon as they turn 70.
Patients born before 02/09/1942 are part of the catch-up programme and will become eligible as soon as they turn 78.
Please note that patients are now eligible from the date they turn the required age (70 or 78), rather than on 1 September.
Patients then remain eligible until their 80th birthday.
For further information please either speak to a GP or Practice Nurse. You can also visit the NHS Choices website at www.nhs.uk/shingles