Shingles is a viral infection caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox (varicella-zoster virus). Shingles can only develop in a person who has already had chickenpox (varicella). After an episode of chickenpox, the virus does not completely clear, and some particles lie dormant in nerve roots near the spinal cord. They cause no harm, or signs and symptoms, but can re-activate later to cause shingles (herpes zoster).
The majority of the Australian population is at risk of developing shingles, as over 97% of Australian adults over 30 years of age are exposed to the chickenpox virus. Approximately 150,000 new cases of shingles occur every year in the general population in Australia. It is estimated that by the age of 85 years, about half of people will develop shingles. Read More >