New Hope for Shingles Prevention Awaiting FDA Approval
A new vaccine for people age 60 and older can decrease the
rate of shingles by 50 percent. Anyone who had chicken pox as child is at risk
for shingles, a common and painful disease. Chicken pox comes from a herpes
virus. The virus remains in your body’s central nervous system long after the
chicken pox illness is over. That same herpes virus, called herpes zoster, can
“reawaken” and cause shingles—a blistering rash and then extreme, lingering pain
that’s called post-herpetic neuralgia.
The new vaccine is a “super potent” version of the chicken
pox vaccine. Researchers say that it can prevent shingles outbreaks and reduce
the severity if flare-ups do occur. The vaccine was tested in 19,000 volunteers
aged 60 and older. Results showed that the vaccine reduced the incidence of
shingles by 51 percent.
The vaccine is still considered experimental and has not
yet been approved by the Food and Drub Administration.
The New England Journal of Medicine, 2 June 2005.