DARRELL PERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DARRELL PERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Close-up of the torso of a 50-year-old African-American man on the 18th day of a case of shingles. Herpes zoster (or simply zoster), commonly known as shingles, is a viral disease characterized by a painful skin rash with blisters in a limited area on one side of the body, often in a stripe. The initial infection with varicella zoster virus (VZV) causes the acute (short-lived) illness chickenpox which generally occurs in children and young people. Once an episode of chickenpox has resolved, the virus is not eliminated from the body but can go on to cause shingles (an illness with very different symptoms) often many years after the initial infection. Years or decades after a chickenpox infection, the virus may break out of nerve cell bodies and travel.
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