Shingles and Family History
Friday, August 29, 2008

Shingles is a viral infection of the nerve roots that is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. Dr. Ed Hill discusses a study that looks at a possible link between family history and shingles in todayís 60 Second Housecall.

A study by Texas researchers shows that people with shingles are more than four times likely to have a first-degree relative with a history of the condition.

Shingles, or herpes zoster infection, is a painful nerve condition linked to the chickenpox virus. If youíve ever had the chickenpox, the virus remains in your body, usually dormant. But in 10 to 30 percent of people, the virus comes back along the nerves, typically causing a blistery rash and severe burning and tingling pain.

The study compared 504 patients treated for herpes zoster with 523 people with other minor or chronic skin conditions.

The analysis showed that those being treated for shingles were much more likely to report a family history of the condition. About 39 percent of the shingles patients said they had another relative with a history of the condition, compared with 11 percent of those in the comparison group.

Offering shingles vaccination to at-risk individuals based on their family history may decrease both their chance of future shingles infection and health care expenditures.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Iím Dr. Ed Hill.