Shingles is an intensely painful disease that strikes the elderly and people with weakened immune systems. It is triggered by the same virus that causes Chicken Pox.
Now, researchers believe a common childhood vaccine may hold the key to warding off Shingles. Researchers tested the Chicken Pox vaccine on 53 patients with Lymphoma. Since those patients have a one in 12 chance of developing Shingles after cell transplant treatments.
In the end, researchers found that the Lymphoma patients who were given the Chicken Pox vaccine had less than half the risk of getting Shingles as those who were not vaccinated. Researchers decided the key appears to be giving the vaccination before the patients were treated with the cell transplants.
While most people recover from Chicken Pox quickly, the virus can remain in nerve cells for years and strike again as Shingles when the immune system is weakened by disease or age. Shingles causes an itchy, burning rash, and shooting pain. Experts say the risk of Shingles rises each decade after age 60, increasing to one in five for people in their 80s.
This research was conducted at Stanford University Medical Center and is published in the New England Journal of Medicine. People have a 13% chance of developing Shingles, but those who weren't vaccinated had a 30% risk. Previous studies have tested the Chicken Pox vaccine in similar patients, but in those cases, the vaccine was given only after the transplant.