Ramsay Hunt syndrome, also called herpes zoster oticus, is a neuro-dermatologic condition, meaning it affects the skin and underlying nerves. The syndrome was first discovered and explained by Dr. J. Ramsey Hunt in 1906. His original work on the subject was not published until 2007. Ramsay Hunt syndrome or RHS affects five out of every 100,000 people in the United States. The shingles vaccine may prevent the disease, but it is not 100% effective.
The varicella-zoster virus causes Ramsey Hunt syndrome. It is the same virus that causes chickenpox and shingles. People infected with chickenpox recover, but the virus never leaves the body. It exists in a dormant state until something triggers it to become active again. Ramsay Hunt syndrome results from a shingles outbreak near the ear. People who have had shingles have the highest risk of developing RHS.
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