Epidemiology

After chicken pox, the virus lies dormant in the dorsal root or cranial nerve ganglia but may re-emerge and typically involves one dermatome (37). The site of involvement depends on the sensory ganglion initially involved. Shingles is more common in individuals over the age of 50 years, except in the immunocompromised, when attacks can occur at an earlier age. The latter are also more susceptible to secondary attacks and involvement of more than one dermatome. Bilateral zoster is even rarer but is not associated with a higher mortality.

In the United Kingdom, there is an estimated incidence of 1.2-3.4 per 1000-person years (38).

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