What is it?
Shingles is an infection caused by the Herpes Varicella-Zoster virus which is also responsible for causing chickenpox. Chickenpox is very common as a child and once the infection has gone it remains dormant in the body with your immune system keeping the virus in check. A reactivation of this virus can occur in some instances which then leads to shingles.
Our recommended vaccines for the most common travel destinations outside of Europe includes Hepatitis A, Typhoid and Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio (DTP) vaccines. For travellers who are visiting the developing world on a regular basis or for prolonged periods of time, we would recommend considering hepatitis B vaccine. Cholera is worth considering for travellers visiting rural areas of developing countries. The vaccine against cholera (Dukoral) also reduces the risk of the most common form of traveller’s diarrhoea caused by E coli. Dukoral is an oral vaccine given in two doses one week apart.
Shingles vaccines is not a travel related vaccine but is a popular vaccine to protect the elderly and those not covered under the NHS against the shingles disease.
Signs and symptoms
The symptoms of shingles can vary in severity however the symptoms are very uncomfortable to deal with. Typically, only one side of the body will be affected and can include a painful rash and the blistering of skin. Individuals affected with shingles may also have a high temperature or fever. There is no cure for shingles and it can be unpleasant. The painful rash lasts for around 7-10 days and it can take 2-4 weeks to fully feel fit again. Anti-virals may sometimes be prescribed by the GP to help treat the symptoms.
The shingles vaccine (Zostavax) has been proven to reduce the chances of getting shingles by more than 50%. If shingles still develop after the vaccine it is thought the condition is milder and last for a much shorter time than usual. The shingles vaccine currently does not require a booster and therefore it is thought that vaccination against shingles will last a lifetime.
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