Health officials warn Tampa Bay elderly about shingles - WFLA News Channel 8

Health officials warn Tampa Bay elderly about shingles

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Shingles may cause a rash like the one pictured here Shingles may cause a rash like the one pictured here
SARASOTA COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

Health officials say one third of the country is at risk for a very painful illness.

It's called shingles, and if you had chicken pox as a kid, you are at risk of contracting the disease.  Florida health officials are urging adults to get vaccinated.    

Shingles can cause painful rashes.

"It can be very nasty," said Donna Keith with the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County.

Keith says anyone who had chicken pox as a kid is at risk.  She says the chicken pox virus can remain dormant in your body for years and could later resurface as shingles.  It's most common among adults aged 50 or older.

Florida health officials are not sure of the causes, but they say stress and/or a weakened immune system are big factors.

Shingles can leave blistering rashes on your head or torso, and the rash could bring with it severe pain lasting for years.

"It can be a very long lasting event and something that I think all of us would like to avoid if we possibly can," Keith said. "Sometimes it can even get into the eyes which can be very detrimental."

Officials say shingles could also lead to pneumonia, blindness, swelling of the brain or even death.

That's why health officials are urging adults to get a one-time vaccine. Keith says the vaccine is about 60% effective.

She said, "[A] sixty percent chance of not contracting shingles is still a good bet in my opinion."

Shingles is more common than you may realize, so health officials urge adults 50 years or older to seriously consider this vaccine. Health officials say there are vaccines available for people who never had chicken pox as a child.

For more information, contact the Department of Health.

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