DR P. MARAZZI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR P. MARAZZI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Shingles rash on the chest of a 4 year old boy. Shingles is a disease caused by the varicella- zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox. The virus infects sensory nerves, and causes the outbreak of small blisters on the skin supplied by the infected nerves. The blisters last around two weeks, after which the area is intensely painful due to nerve damage. The blisters are highly infectious (causing chicken pox) as they contain fluid that contains virus particles. Early treatment with antiviral drugs can prevent the pain, but the virus can lie dormant in nerves for years, and nearly always recurs.
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