Can COVID increase your risk for shingles?

By Dennis Thompson
Health Announcer

MONDAY, April 11, 2022 (HealthDay News) – The availability of COVID -19 increases the risk of an elderly person developing shingles.

The researchers found that people 50 or older who had COVID disease were 15% more likely to develop shingles, compared to those who did not have the disease. That risk increased to 21% in those treated with severe COVID disease.

“It’s important that health care workers and 50-plus people are aware that this can increase the risk that patients can be diagnosed and treated early if they develop shingles after COVID- 19, “said lead researcher Dr. Amit Bhavsar, director of research and development for the pharmaceutical company GSK in Brussels.

Shingles is a skin infection that affects people who have previously had chicken pox.

The disease that causes chicken pox, varicella zoster, lurks in the nerve cells of people after they have their first case of the virus, explains Dr. Carrie Kovarik is a professor of dermatology and medicine with the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania.

In some cases, varicella zoster reappears later in life and develops shingles, due to an immune system.

“Your T-cells are what keep chicken pox at bay,” Kovarik says. “If your T -cells aren’t working – you get sick or overweight or you’re old – chicken pox can get on the nerves and on your skin. It can’t get rid of it. hold on to it. again. “

Because of this, it is important that COVID can induce shingles, because the disease has compromised the immune system, Kovarik said.

“I’ve actually seen patients who have had one or two episodes of [shingles] in a year that has not been available before but has been available to COVID, “Kovarik said.” And I have a lot of illnesses like this, and it’s working on a lot of my illnesses. “

Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior consultant with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, agreed.

“This is not surprising because SARS-CoV-2 has been shown to reduce disease severity and physiologic stress,” says Adalja. “Physiologic stress and dysregulated immune function are the most common symptoms” in shingles patients.

Nearly all adults over the age of 50 have chicken pox, and as a result they are at risk for developing shingles, Bhavsar said.

For this study, Bhavsar and his colleagues compared health data from nearly 400,000 50 COVID patients and more than 1.5 million people who did not have COVID.

None of each group was diagnosed with COVID disease or shingles.

The researchers found a high incidence of shingles among COVID patients who persisted for at least six months after their diagnosis.

Because people diagnosed with shingles have been excluded from the study, it is not known whether shingles disease can limit or eliminate this problem from COVID, Bhavsar said.

Kovarik feared that COVID would improve the protection provided by shingles, especially in people with weak immune systems.

“Shingles is a much more serious form of chicken pox, trying to rejuvenate your immune cells and expose them to the disease so you can get some protection against that disease. “said Kovarik. “People who have some immune problems are less likely to improve their chances of preventing shingles, or a strong COVID can suppress your natural response to shingles.”

Those concerned about getting shingles should consider getting COVID infection and shingles, Kovarik said.

“Statistics have shown that COVID disease helps prevent hospitalizations and deaths, so having COVID disease prevents a serious case, which we hope to prevent. . [shingles] in those diseases, ”Kovarik said.

The new research was published in a journal Open Forum for flying diseases .

See more

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more to say about shingles.

TEACHERS: Amit Bhavsar, MBBS, MHA, director, research and development, GSK, Brussels, Belgium; Carrie Kovarik, MD, physician, dermatology and medicine, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia; Amesh Adalja, MD, high school, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, Baltimore; Open Forum for flying diseasesMarch 9, 2022

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