Occupational Health & Infectious Disease
Risk Management, Portland, OR 5/1/13
What is Shingles and how do I get it?
Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful, blistery rash that is most commonly seen on the sides of the chest. It is comes from the same virus that causes chickenpox. Once having chickenpox the virus remains in your body and as you age it may become active again causing shingles.
- Shingles vaccine (helps reduce risk of getting shingles)
- Early treatment (helps shorten the time length of infection)
Signs & Symptoms
- Pain, burning, numbness, or tingling (Usually the first symptom)
- A red rash that begins a few days after the pain
- Fluid-filled blisters that break open and crust/scab over
- Fever, chills
- Body aches
Is shingles contagious?
Shingles cannot be spread from one person to another. However, the virus that causes shingles can be spread from a person with active shingles to a person who has never had chickenpox and then that person would develop chickenpox, not shingles, because it is the same virus and you have to have chickenpox before you can get shingles. The virus is spread through direct contact with the fluid from the rash or blisters; you cannot catch the virus through sneezing or coughing.
Even though the risk of a person with shingles spreading the virus is low, it is still best to avoid pregnant women who have never had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine, newborns, and people who have weakened immune systems until the fluid filled blisters break open and develop scabs.
Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Shingles. http://www.mayoclinic.com/
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Shingles. http://www.cdc.gov/