Shingles can strike at any time. There is no way to predict who will develop shingles, or when, or how severe it will be. In fact, 97 per cent of adults have the virus that causes shingles within them.1
Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is characterised by a distinctive unilateral, blistering rash that is caused by the reactivation of the varicella zoster virus. Nearly all adults have the zoster virus within them.1
For older adults, shingles can be serious, the risk of shingles and related complications increases with age, particularly after the age of 70.1-3 This is exactly what happened with Phillip.
Phillip Jones is the proprietor of Bass Phillip Wines in Victoria. An avid wine maker, he oversees every step of the process.
“I was diagnosed with shingles in early 2006,” says Phillip. His diagnosis came around the harvest season – Phillip’s busiest working period. “The first symptoms I experienced with this was a driving headache – it was like someone was tearing at my hair. It’s the worst thing I’ve ever suffered and I don’t want to have it again,” said Phillip.
Phillip describes his pain as “tense, ‘zappy’, sort of pulling headache and very seriously heavy pain in the head.”
Not long after the pain, a rash appeared – “And an itchiness all around the head and the neck”.
Shingles is more than just a rash. Sharp pain and hypersensitivity can occur before a rash appears. The most frequent debilitating complication of shingles is post herpetic neuralgia (PHN) – pain that can last for months, even years, after the rash has healed. Shingles pain can be excruciating and has been described as stabbing and burning.
Complications of shingles and PHN can be serious and long-lasting. Shingles may increase the risk of stroke in the following six months.4
Shingles involving the eye (also known as ophthalmic zoster) can occur in up to 25% of shingles cases and can lead to facial scarring and loss of vision. 1,5
In Phillip’s case he said “I had a palsy. I lost my taste buds and my sense of smell entirely”.
This experience lasted 9 months and was something that Phillip struggled with. It was especially difficult when it impacted his business, income and livelihood.
“The effect of loss of taste and smell was devastating because quality control in this business relies absolutely and fundamentally on taste and regular monitoring of the wine.”
“A lot of jobs were not finished and we bottled some wines that were faulty. It just had a massive effect on my business.”
“The business was falling down around my ears and I had no idea where the future was heading.”
“I cannot live through this again.”
What symptoms should I look out for?
In most cases there are initial symptoms 48-72 hours before the rash appears including sensitivity to light, headaches, itching, tingling or severe pain in the affected area and a general feeling of being unwell.
Most people with shingles develop a painful rash, which usually appears as a band or belt on one side of their body.
There is no cure for shingles. However there are treatments that can help reduce the severity and duration of shingles if administered within 72 hours of the onset of the rash.
What can I do?
If shingles is a concern for you or a loved one, you should talk to your doctor for more information about shingles, including government funded prevention and treatment options.
1. NCIRS Herpes Zoster Factsheet August 2017 http://www.ncirs.edu.au/assets/provider_resources/fact-sheets/zoster-
vaccine-fact-sheet.pdf Accessed June 2018 2. Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI). The Australian Immunisation Handbook 10th ed (2017
update). Canberra: Australian Government Department of Health, 2017 3. MacIntyre R. et al. PLoS ONE 2015; 10(4):e0125025 4. Langan SM et al. Clin Infect Dis 2014; 58:1497-1503 5. Harpaz R et al. MMRW 2008 Jun 6;57 (RR-5):1-30.
SeqirusTM is a trademark of Seqirus UK Limited or its affiliates. Seqirus (Australia) Pty Ltd. ABN 66 120 398 067, 63 Poplar Road Parkville, Victoria 3052. Date of preparation June 2018. SEQ/ZOST/0318/0295
SeqirusTM is a trademark of Seqirus UK Limited or its affiliates. Seqirus (Australia) Pty Ltd.
ABN 66 120 398 067, 63 Poplar Road Parkville, Victoria 3052. Date of preparation June