What is Herpes Zoster: How to recognize and how to get cure

Herpes zoster is on the rise in Australia.

The illness is a debilitating neurological disease which is caused by the activation of varicella zoster virus. Varicella zoster virus is caused by the childhood illness known as chicken pox. If a person has had chicken pox before then the reactivation of the varicella zoster virus that caused the chicken pox will later morph into herpes zoster. Herpes zoster is especially on the rise for people aged 50 years and older, this coincides with a decrease in cell mediated immunity seen in aging people. Besides from the aging community, people who suffer from immunosuppressed illnesses and conditions also experience a higher risk if having herpes zoster. It is estimated that adults in the age range of 22 years old and older, about 70 percent of them will likely have a case of herpes zoster after the age if 50 years old. The percentage drops slightly to 50 percent when thinking of those same individuals reaching the age of 85 years old or older.

In Australia, it has been observed that herpes zoster has a correlation with age dependence.



From 2000 to 2006 in Australia, it was estimated that 2.5 to 10 out of every 1000 people, respectively, would have an occurrence of herpes zoster among all age groups. Compared to the world this is a very normal range in increasing prevalence. Complications observed with herpes zoster is developing post-herpetic neuralgia. Post-herpetic neuralgia is debilitating and is one of the major contributors to morbidity accompanied by herpes zoster. Post-herpetic neuralgia develops in a third of the people who become hospitalized due to herpes zoster and are over the age 50 but there is a higher occurrence in people over the age of 50 years old. To manage herpes zosters there is a significate economic and social hardship placed on communities and the health systems. Australia experiences an annual cost of about 33 million that is directly related to herpes zoster. Herpes zosters is definitely a must greater burden on Australia then varicella due to herpes zoster resulting in more hospitalizations, its more prone to be diagnosed with accompanied complications and costly neurological complications occur in almost a third of people experiencing herpes zoster.

One of the biggest concerns are scientist from stiaaustralia.org are wondering is whether herpes zoster's epidemiology is changing over time. Scientist are looking at the influences that affect the reactivation of varicella zoster virus and whether the past activation factors are similar or vastly different from the present activation factors. It is hypothesized that being exposed to varicella zoster virus causes a natural boost to the immune  system which prevents reactivation of herpes zoster. Considering this, countries that offer a universal immunization for varicella reduce the risk of being exposed to wild types of varicella but subsequently increase the possibility of people aged 30 50 years old developing herpes zoster. Australia is one of the countries that has administered universal vaccinations for children for varicella zoster virus and the trends for herpes zoster are rising. Because of this universal vaccination for varicella zoster virus it makes it that much more difficult to identify contributors for reactivation of the virus.

Since the number of herpes zoster is increase among Australians and we know that they administer a universal vaccination to children for varicella zoster virus, it is time that we consider changing the approach to help lessen the financial burden herpes zoster is putting on Australia's health care system. There was a drastic increase observed for the prescriptions of antiviral drugs to treat herpes zoster in 2002 2006. This increase was also observed to increase with the age of the people acquiring the illness. Analyzing the trends between 2002 2006, the prescription rate overall for antiviral drugs increased on average about 4.2 percent per year.

The fact of the matter is that herpes zoster is evident to be increasing over time by way of the aging population and the amount of time the varicella zoster virus spends in one's body.



Over time even though the prevalence of herpes zoster is increasing, the prevalence of hospitalization is not showing the same outcome. If the researchers and medical community stop administering the universal varicella zoster virus vaccine, we may be able to get a hold of the occurrence of the illness. We need to focus more on the illness that is at hand with the chicken pox and stop administering universal vaccines. This will help researchers and medical professionals trigger what they activation factor that reactivates the varicella zoster virus that causes herpes zoster.

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