'Shingles occurs due to a reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus that lies dormant in the skin nerve roots after causing the childhood disease chickenpox (varicella) decades earlier.
Shingles typically shows up as a painful, blistering skin rash in a band of skin supplied by a single nerve (dermatome) on one side of the body. Pain often precedes the rash by a few days; sometimes leading it to be mistaken for other conditions.
The shingles rash is often painful and blistering.
Pain at the site of the shingles rash that persists for months or years is the most common debilitating outcomes of shingles. Known as post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN), this pain can be continuous, shooting, or triggered by a light touch, such as from clothes or a gentle breeze.
There is no cure for PHN, and it is difficult to relieve in more than half of those affected, despite the use of multiple and complex pain medications. Even if shingles is treated early with antiviral and pain medications, PHN can occur.
Another common complication is herpes zoster ophthalmicus, which affects the skin around the eye and can threaten the person’s vision.
People who have a medical condition or treatment (such as for cancer) that weakens the immune system are at greater risk of developing shingles, irrespective of their age.
Importantly, because (the shingles vaccine) is a live attenuated vaccine, it should not be used in people with significantly compromised immune systems.
...vaccine protection against shingles decreases with age: from 64% in people aged 60-69 years, to 41% among 70- to 79-year-olds, and 18% for those aged 80 years and over.' (My emphasis)
Full article by Kristine Macartney, Associate Professor and Research Fellow at the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance and Sanjay Jayasinghe, PhD candidate, both of Child and Adolescent Health, University of Sydney: theconversation.com/explain...
1) Familiarise yourself with the symptoms of shingles and if you are suspicious you are developing shingles, seek prompt medical assessment so you can start antiviral treatment as soon as possible.
2) Talk to your specialist or GP about having a script on standby for the antiviral; shingles symptoms seem to prefer making their appearance on the weekend, when medical assessment isn't easy to obtain.
3) While we are not supposed to be given the (live) shingles vaccine, sometimes we may be given it just before being diagnosed with CLL, or by a misinformed medico after diagnosis. There's a small risk that the live vaccine may give us chickenpox (which can be a serious illness for us) if we are one of the ~5% that have not previously been infected by the varicella-zoster virus, i.e. not previously had chicken pox. I don't think we can get shingles from the shingles vaccine and the vaccine probably would lessen our risk of shingles, but given the seriousness of a chickenpox illness in an immune compromised individual and the reduced likelihood of it actually providing us with protection (to the already shrinking benefit as we age), CLL specialist advice is to avoid the shingles vaccine as well as other live vaccines.
Photo: Stokes Bay, Kangaroo Island. The orange in the rocks is caused by lichen. This sandy bay is reached by a narrow path through a headland from a pebble beach - but only at low tide. A large natural rock pool for safe swimming is in the foreground.