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Why are ever-younger adults contracting shingles?

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Here’s why: according to studies conducted in the 1960s by the British GP and epidemiologist Robert Edgar Hope-Simpson, those who are repeatedly exposed to chicken pox—health care workers, say, and families with young children—are less prone to a reactivation of the virus. Greater exposure actually lessens the risk of shingles. It follows, McGeer says, that the immune systems of young adults who didn’t get the varicella vaccine won’t have that extra boosting that would help prevent shingles—the younger, vaccinated generation won’t provide any exposure. So adults in their 20s and 30s have two strikes against them: they’ve had the virus, so it can be reactivated, and they haven’t had the exposure that would heighten their immunity. “They are going to have a problem,” concludes McGeer. [Source]


Written by tldegray

September 25, 2010 at 4:00 pm

One Response

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  1. OK, I read this and now I am worried. I didn’t get chicken pox until I was 35, after a trip to Washingtons DC and exposure to tons of kids at the Smithsonian museums. I got really lucky and had a mild case (thanks in part to antivirals) but now I am worried that I might get shingles since I don’t have ongoing exposure to chicken pox through family or lifestyle. You’ve inspired me to do more research on this subject…BTW, one on my neighbors was mad at me that I didn’t spend time with her kids when I had chicken pox. I thought she had lost her mind … plus I really didn’t feel up to dealing with anyone when I was sick.


    January 21, 2011 at 7:01 am

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