Shingles or herpes zoster is a disease affecting the nervous system. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Anyone who has had chickenpox can develop shingles later in life, as shingles is a reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus. Shingles is somewhat contagious and individuals with an active infection should take care to minimize the spread of the virus.
A person who has never had chickenpox can contract the virus from someone with shingles. When the shingles virus is active, it causes painful blisters on the skin that contain the live virus. If an uninfected person comes into contact with the fluid in these blisters, they could catch the virus and develop chickenpox. Shingles-to shingles transmission is not possible, but the person with active shingles can spread the virus to someone who never had chickenpox; this will result in the latter individual developing chickenpox.
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