Chrome 2001
.
Aetna Intelihealth InteliHealth Aetna Intelihealth Aetna Intelihealth
 
.
. .
.
Chrome 2001
Chrome 2001
InteliHealth
Ask the Doc
4464
Ask the Doc
Ask The Expert
Harvard Medical School
Image of a cadeusus
. .
General Medical Questions
.
Question : Can I get shingles from another person?
.
.
.
The Trusted Source
.
.
Howard LeWine, M.D.

Anthony L. Komaroff, M.D., is professor of medicine and editor-in-chief of Harvard Health Publications at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Komaroff also is senior physician and was formerly director of the Division of General Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dr. Komaroff has served on various advisory committees to the federal government, and is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

.
.
November 21, 2013
.

 

No, you can’t. Here’s why.

Shingles is caused by a virus called varicella-zoster virus —“VZ virus” or just “VZV”.  Almost all adults have been infected with this virus. Many became infected in childhood. Once you are infected with this virus, it remains alive in your body for the rest of your life. 

When children are first infected with VZV, it often causes chicken pox. When an adult is infected with VZV for the first time, a more severe illness — most often pneumonia — can happen.

Sometimes the infection comes on without causing any symptoms. The virus just enters the body through the throat, then travels to the nerves. For most or all of our lives the virus just lives “asleep” inside the nerves, causing no symptoms. That’s because our immune system is keeping it in check.

But sometimes the immune system can have temporary lapses. This happens more often as we grow older. But it can happen at any time in our lives. As a result, the virus that is asleep inside the nerves can start to multiply. When that happens, the skin supplied by the nerve starts to tingle and get unpleasant sensations. Often the skin gets red and forms little blisters. That’s the illness called shingles. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about one third of people have at least one attack of shingles at some time in their lives. Most attacks happen in people older than age 50. And some people are much more likely to get attacks of shingles. Those include people whose immune systems have been weakened by disease — cancer, HIV infection, and autoimmune disease — or weakened by a treatment, like corticosteroids.

So you get shingles from a virus that entered your body years before, usually when you were a kid. You can’t catch it from even close contact with another person who is having an attack of shingles. That’s in part because the virus that causes shingles, VZV, is likely already in your body.

 

.
.
InteliHealth
.
Ask A Question
.
.
InteliHealth
Do You Have A Question?
.
. . .
.
Ask The Expert Archives
Topics
.
InteliHealth
.
InteliHealth

    Print Printer-friendly format    
   
dmtatd
dmtATD
dmtatd
126747
InteliHealth
1998-05-15
f
InteliHealth
NULL
411, 4464, 4581, 4582, 7991, 7992, 7995, 7996, 7997, 8122, 8438, 8463, 8464, 8465, 8466, 8467, 8468, 8469, 8470, 8471, 8472, 8473, 8474, 8475, 8476, 8477, 8479, 8480, 8481, 8482, 8483, 8484, 8486, 8487, 8488, 8489, 8490, 8760, 14219, 20807, 21346, 21349, 21351, 23926, 23938, 24017, 24025, 24075, 24151, 24510, 24519, 24549, 24869, 24878, 25107, 25518, 25646, 25968, 29367, 29516, 29595, 48666, 48812, 59367,
4581
.
.  
This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify.
.