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Herpes Zoster Vaccine

New Shingles vaccine OK’d

by Helen Branswell, The Canadian Press

Courtesy and Thanks: Toronto Sun News, Wednesday, August 22, 2008

Health Canada has approved a vaccine that helps prevent painful shingles outbreaks in older people who had chinkenpox earlier in life. The vaccine, which has been available in United States since about mid- 2006, boosts immunity to the vericella Zoster virus- the bug that causes chickenpox- which lives in latent form in the nervous system of people who have had the disease.

Reactivation occurs later in life in about 15% to 20% of people who had chickenpox, according to Public Health Agency of Canada’s website. The reactivation produces a painful rash that typically lasts a couple of weeks; it’s a condition known by the names shingles, herpes zoster or just zoster. In some cases the pain endures for months and even years after the rash subsides, a condition know as post-herpetic neuralgia. It (shingles) occurs in all age groups but it increases in incidence slowly and the curve starts to increase more rapidly some where around (age) 50,” explained Dr. Allison McGeer, an infectious disease specialist at Mount Sinai Hospital. “And then the increase gets steeper and steeper as you get older  and older.”

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