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The first symptom of shingles is often extreme sensitivity or pain in a broad band on one side of the body (see Figure 1 for an example of dermatomes (areas were individual nerves from the spine function). The sensation can be itching, tingling, burning, constant aching, or a deep, shooting, or "lightning bolt" pain.
Nature has devised an elegant plan for protecting you from the shingles virus.
After contracting and recovering from chickenpox (usually as a child), as you age, your natural immunity gets asymptomatically "boosted" by coming into contact with infected children, who are recovering from chickenpox. This natural "boosting" of natural immunity to the varicella (chickenpox) virus helps protect you from getting shingles later in life.
This is true whether you are a child, adolescent, young adult, or elderly—every time you come into contact with someone infected with chickenpox, you get a natural "booster shot" that protects you from a painful—and expensive—bout with shingles.
In other words, shingles can be prevented by ordinary contact, such as receiving a hug from a grandchild who is getting or recovering from the chickenpox. But with the advent of the chickenpox vaccine, there is less chickenpox around to provide that natural immune boost for children AND adults.
So as chickenpox rates have declined, shingles rates have begun to rise, and there is mounting evidence that an epidemic of shingles is developing in America from the mass, mandatory use of the chickenpox vaccine by all children.
As hard as scientists try to come up with ways to "improve" human biology, they just can't outsmart Mother Nature.. In trying to tinker with the natural order of things, we tend to destroy processes that nature has masterfully orchestrated to keep us healthy.
This dance between chickenpox and shingles is a perfect example.