Ways of infection and the incubation period of herpes zoster

Shingles is a disease of viral etiology, the incubation period of which can last for more than a decade. The causative agent of the disease is the herpes simplex virus type 3 (herpes zoster).


Herpetic infection has been known since ancient times; in the writings of Avicenna, Galen and Hippocrates, cases of diseases caused by this pathogen are described.

In the 20s of the last century, the herpes virus was first isolated and its pathogenic nature was proved. Animals are also sick with infections caused by the herpes virus.


  • 1Why is herpes called shingles
  • 2Transmission routes and causes of the disease
  • 3What happens in the body after infection
  • 4How to prevent the disease

Why is herpes called shingles


To answer this question, consider the life cycle of the virus. The herpes virus enters an intact (never met with a pathogen) organism from a sick person. Then it affects the skin, so there is chicken pox, and repeated contact with the virus provokes the development of herpes zoster. After the treatment of chickenpox, the herpetic infection remains in the body forever and settles in the nervous tissue - the cells of the posterior horns of the spinal cord (the most "favorite" place), cranial nerves.

In a period unfavorable for the body (disruption of the immune system), dormant infection becomes more active. The nerve ganglion in which the infection persists is inflamed. Then the virus spreads through the nerve fibers, also causing their inflammation, and gets to the skin. On the skin appears hyperemia and multiple small vesicles with a light liquid.

Intercostal nerves originate from the spinal cord, run along the ribs and encircle the trunk - therefore, the disease is called "girdling."

Another version of the name of the disease surrounding herpes is that the lesions on the skin resemble the appearance of a trail from the impact of the belt (from the Latin "cingulum" - the belt).

Transmission routes and causes of the disease

As noted above, first penetrating the human body, the herpesvirus type 3 causes chickenpox. Repeated exposure to the patient or weakening of immunity (immunodeficiency) provokes herpes zoster.

The infection enters the body by airborne droplets, by contact (with kisses, with personal hygiene items, clothes), from the mother to the fetus during delivery through the amniotic fluid. A prerequisite is the presence of a virus on the surface of objects - liquid from bursting bubbles. The herpes virus is fairly stable in the external environment and can persist for a long time, especially at low temperatures, but it quickly breaks down when exposed to ultraviolet light and high temperatures.

Herpes zoster occurs in all age groups in persons with immune deficiency, but elderly and senile individuals are more prone to the disease.

Causes of immunodeficient conditions:

  • taking medications (cytotoxic drugs, glucocorticoids, long-term antibiotic therapy);
  • chronic fatigue;
  • lack of sleep;
  • poor nutrition;
  • supercooling or overheating;
  • Malignant diseases and blood diseases (acute and chronic leukemia, anemia of various etiologies);
  • HIV in the stage of AIDS;
  • radiation therapy;
  • transplantation of organs and tissues;
  • elderly and senile age;
  • pregnancy.

What happens in the body after infection


The period from the moment of infection to the body before the appearance of the first signs of the disease is called incubation.

Herpes zoster virus, hitting the body, can live for years in the tissues of the human nervous system, waiting for a favorable moment, therefore, in the herpes zoster long incubation period.

The course of the incubation period can be divided into the following stages:

  1. The introduction into the uninfected organism through the mucous membrane, the skin.
  2. Reproduction (replication) of viruses in the body and the colonization of the pathogen in organs and tissues.
  3. "Capture" the body, contact with the immune system, the synthesis of antibodies.

At the end of the incubation period, patients can note the appearance of malaise, fever, unpleasant sensations on the skin, pain, itching of the skin. The presence of such complaints indicates the transition of herpes zoster from the incubation period to the next stage of the disease - clinical manifestations.

It should be noted that in some cases of shingles on the skin there are no rashes.

Do not self-search for symptoms and ways of treating the disease on the Internet, do not consult about the disease with friends. Shingles is a dangerous disease that can result in death if ill treatment occurs.

How to prevent the disease

Measures to prevent herpes zoster the following:
  1. Normalize the mode of work and rest (rest more, walk, sleep).
  2. Add more fresh vegetables, fruits, herbs to the diet. Especially foods rich in vitamin C (cranberry, citrus, dog rose). In the period of hypovitaminosis, take vitamin complexes.
  3. Ventilate the room, especially on sunny days.
  4. Do not use cloth towels in public places, only disposable.
  5. Use disposable dishes in public places.
  6. In time, deal with the treatment of all acute diseases, not allowing the development of complications - this requires timely contact with a doctor.
  7. Do not contact sick people or wear a mask in the period of their infectiousness, in the period of epidemics of ARVI wear a mask in public places.
  8. Do not wear non-washed and not ironed clothes of other people.
  9. If a case of infection with herpes zoster is registered in your home or workplace, treat all surfaces with an antiseptic.
Remember that in life you can not avoid a collision with infectious agents.

You should take good care of yourself and your health, and if you still get sick - see a doctor, the treatment should be under his strict control.


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