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  • Herpes zoster, commonly known as shingles and also known as zona, is a viral disease characterized by a painful skin rash with blisters in a limited area on one side of the body, often in a stripe. The initial infection with varicella zoster virus causes the acute, short-lived illness chickenpox which generally occurs in children and young adults. Once an episode of chickenpox has resolved, the virus is not eliminated from the body and can go on to cause herpes zoster often many years after the initial infection. Herpes zoster is not the same disease as herpes simplex, despite the name similarity; both the varicella zoster virus and herpes simplex virus belong to the same viral subfamily Alphaherpesvirinae. After the initial episode of chickenpox resolves, the varicella zoster virus remains latent in the nerve cell bodies and, less frequently, the non-neuronal satellite cells of the dorsal root, cranial nerve or autonomic ganglia, without causing any symptoms. Years or decades after the initial infection, the virus may break out of nerve cell bodies and travel down nerve axons to cause viral infection of the skin in the region of the nerve. Wikipedia

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