According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, roughly one in three Americans will develop shingles during their lifetime.
Shingles is non-contagious viral infection. The disease causes a painful skin rash and can lead to complications that will warrant hospitalisation. Shingles causes less than 100 deaths in the United States each year, though around 25 percent of people who contract it will need to spend time in hospital.
What Is Shingles?
Shingles affects nerve endings in the skin. Sufferers often experience skin blisters and rashes, along with nerve pain, burning, and an itching sensation.
Most people do not realize that shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, varicella-zoster or VZV. Once you contract chickenpox — which happens to most people during childhood — the virus stays in your body but is dormant. In some people, the virus can eventually become active again. If this happens, it results in shingles rather than chickenpox. Currently, scientists do not have a conclusive answer as to why the virus remains dormant in some people but reactivates in others.
There is some evidence to suggest that shingles can affect internal organs rather than the skin, though this is extremely rare. Internal shingles can lead to digestive or neurological problems. It has also been linked to an increased risk of dementia and stroke.