Shingles, or herpes zoster, is a disease of the nervous system. It is primarily an infection of a single nerve -- or a cluster of nerves -- and the skin that surrounds that nerve. The virus responsible for this infection is varicella-zoster, which also claims responsibility for the chickenpox virus typically contracted in youth. Some statistics suggest as many as one in four adults will contract shingles in their lifetime. The virus is contagious to an extent, and proper steps should be taken to prevent transmission.
If you have never been infected with chickenpox, it is possible to catch the condition from a person carrying the varicella-zoster virus. When shingles are active, it will form painful blisters on the skin, which have the live virus. If an uninfected person comes into contact with the fluid within these blisters, they could catch the virus and develop chickenpox.
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