A disease that has long been a thorn among the elderly is now exploding across all age groups. It is estimated that at least one million people in this country are suffering from the pain of shingles. And no one can explain why there are 6 times as many cases today as in years past, even among young adults in their 20s and 30s.
Another concern that can't be explained is why these young patients are getting it again, and again. Dr. Barbara Yawn said "If you got your first at 80 it's not very long till you won't have to worry about it. But if you get your first episode of shingles at 18 or 20, you've got another 60-70 years that you're at risk and our data suggests that the risk of recurrence is higher than the risk of occurrence."
There is a shingles vaccine, but it's only effective in people over age 50. Researchers are working to find something that could protect young people from getting shingles repeatedly, but it may take years before that's available.
In the meantime, parents should understand that the only way to get shingles is if you had the chicken pox as a young child. Kids who get the chicken pox vaccine and avoid the illness will never get shingles.
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