If You Didn’t Get the Chicken Pox Then, You Could Get Herpes Zoster Now

If You Didn’t Get the Chicken Pox Then, You Could Get Herpes Zoster Now

Medicine

Herpes, Vaccination, And Treatment In Australia

Herpes zoster is a virus that is also referred to as shingles. The virus is a painful rash that is experienced outwardly on the skin. Herpes zoster arrives as a reactivation of a dormant virus in the body known as the varicella-zoster virus. In order to experience herpes zoster, a person must first have been introduced to the varicella-zoster virus at a younger age in the form of chickenpox. 

Chickenpox

Chickenpox is a childhood virus that is expressed by an itchy rash on the skin. The rash eventually heals by crushing and scabbing over and heals. The varicella-zoster virus that was introduced into the body never goes away even when the chickenpox virus is no longer visible. Later in life, the virus is reactivated but it reappears as herpes zoster instead of chickenpox. People who have never encountered the chickenpox virus, for the most part, do not have to worry about the herpes zoster virus developing later on in life. The chickenpox form of the varicella-zoster virus is contagious but when herpes zoster appears later in life there is not as much of a worry of herpes zoster being that contagious. 

Vaccination

Considering that people who have never been affected by the varicella-zoster virus are unlikely to develop herpes zoster, the varicella-zoster virus vaccine was developed to decrease the prevalence of herpes zoster among the aging population. The vaccine helps protect people from being able to contract the varicella-zoster virus. We have observed that children nowadays are not experiencing chickenpox during their childhood due to the vaccine. The vaccine was developed to help eliminate the burden that the herpes zoster illness has on Australian society and the aging population. Considering herpes zoster is experienced by people who are of advanced age, other complications can arise when a herpes zoster virus is experienced.

Complications

This puts a strain in the health care system as more and more people are becoming hospitalized because of the symptoms associated with herpes zoster. Other medical complications can develop due to herpes zoster and in some instances, the effects have been fatal. 

Herpes zoster in Australia

There are over 150 thousand cases that occur in Australia annually. Annually herpes zoster cost Australia anywhere from 19 to 30 million in healthcare cost. The health care cost range has an association with the age of a person. The older a person is, the more likely they are to incur other health care cost than a younger person. The vaccine for the varicella-zoster virus is a universal vaccine that is geared to fight all versions of the varicella-zoster virus. The vaccine has made a great impact on the Australian community since 90 percent of the people who make it to adulthood have become infected with the varicella-zoster virus. Knowing this makes getting the vaccine more of an essential priority instead of an option. 

Treatment

The vaccine takes about 4 to 6 weeks before it is effective against the varicella-zoster virus. The problem with the vaccine is that it is universal and is not geared towards treating the main type of varicella-zoster virus. The vaccine is a one-stop-shop type of effect where it targets all types of varicella-zoster virus in theory. It has been suspected that the vaccine will only be effective towards a wild type of varicella-zoster virus in the future.

Zostavax vaccine

The vaccine for herpes zoster known as Zostavax is a part of Australia’s approach to preventing herpes zoster in people aged 50 and older. This vaccine is effective against the occurrence of herpes zoster in older aged individuals who already have the varicella-zoster virus dormant in their body. Zostavax vaccine is highly encouraged for people who have the potential of the occurrence of an outbreak of herpes zoster virus. Even people who may not remember ever having chickenpox as a child may want to take the vaccine to ensure that they will not have a herpes zoster outbreak.

Child immunization

Normally a vaccine is designed to be given to children due to the immunity uptake. Children’s bodies are more desirable for a vaccine to be effective because their immune system will support it better versus an older person. Among adults aged 50 years of old the vaccine Zostavax was not showing a decrease of herpes zoster, rather the rate of the virus was increasing. It is assumed that the increase has to do with the ability in which the vaccine is being accepted in an adult’s body. It is now being considered that the Zostavax vaccine should be introduced at a younger age among adults to potentially have a better rate of non-occurrence of herpes zoster due to younger bodies absorbing the vaccine better. 

Peter Williams

About the author

Peter Williams administrator

Medical practitioner from Sydney, NSW.

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