There has been a confirmed case of Shingles among our 3rd year students in the college. Please read the parental advice letter from the HSE attached below as a link.
Shingles is an infection of a nerve and the area of skin around it. It is caused by the herpes varicella-zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox.
Most people have chickenpox in childhood, but after the illness has gone, the virus remains dormant (inactive) in the nervous system. The immune system (the body’s natural defence system) keeps the virus in check, but later in life it can be reactivated and cause shingles.
Shingles usually affects a specific area on either the left or right side of the body.
The main symptoms are:
- a rash, which develops into itchy blisters and then scabs over
In most cases, the painful rash of shingles lasts 7 to 10 days and takes 2 to 4 weeks to fully heal. A number of different medicines can be used to treat the pain.
It is not possible to catch shingles from someone else with the condition. The shingles virus is reactivated from a previous infection with the varicella-zoster virus (the virus that causes chickenpox) and is not transmitted by person-to-person contact.
However, it is possible for someone who has never had chickenpox to catch chickenpox from someone with shingles. In Ireland, chickenpox is so common during childhood that 9 out of 10 adults have had it, so will not be affected.
The blisters (vesicles) that develop as a result of shingles contain virus particles. The virus can be spread through direct contact with the open blisters. If you have not had chickenpox before (usually as a young child), you can catch it from direct contact with:
- the fluid from the blisters of someone who has shingles
- something that has the fluid on it, such as bed sheets or a towel
If you have shingles, you are contagious until the last blister has scabbed over. This will usually occur five to seven days after your symptoms started.