Giovanni Maga maga at
Tue Jun 13 03:36:41 EST 1995

Shingles is caused by the herpes virus varicella-zoster (VZV). VZV 
infections are common in the childhood (70% of people has been 
infected). Some infections are subclinical and go unnoticed, in general 
there are diffused lesions of the epithelium forming red spots. This 
primary infection is defeated by the immune system and almost 
spontaneously recovered. The virus, however, goes in latency in the 
neuronal ganglia (especially the trigeminal ganglia) like other 
alpha-herpesviruses (HSV-1, HSV-1). From this location it can suddenly 
reactivate (this hgappens mostly in adult age), causing a painful 
inflammation (often of the facial nerve) with extensive lesions of the 
epithelium (where the virus actually replicates). The symptoms can vary, 
but are usually severe. Recently, the use of a vaccine (Varivax) has 
been proposed for uninfected children, but there are still some doubts 
about its efficacy in preventing reactivation. More detailed information 
can be found in every textbook of virology under Herpesviruses, 
Varicella-Zoster Virus. Hope it helps.

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