7 Surprising Reasons to Worry About Shingles

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Shingles is the Rodney Dangerfield of viruses -- it gets little public respect. If anything, it's thought of as a weird, pesky rash that befalls the unlucky. "People don't realize how common it is and how very painful shingles can be," says geriatrician Leslie Kernisan of the Over 60 Health Center in Berkeley, California.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all adults over 60 receive the one-time vaccine for shingles (Zostavax), which is FDA-approved for anyone age 50 or older -- but fewer than one in 10 eligible adults actually get it.

Here are some of the surprising reasons to be wary of shingles and consider vaccination:

#1: You're almost certainly at risk for shingles.

More than 99 percent of adults over age 40 have had chicken pox, even if they don't remember, according to the CDC. That's relevant because once you've had this common childhood disease, the virus that causes it hides out in nerve cells for years before suddenly developing, in some people, into the secondary infection of shingles. The varicella zoster virus causes both varicella (chicken pox) and herpes zoster (shingles).

Wow fact: Shingles will strike 1 million Americans of all ages this year -- and almost one in three adults will experience shingles in their lifetime, estimates the CDC.


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