How contagious are herpes zoster (shingles) infections?

Updated: Jan 25, 2019
  • Author: Camila K Janniger, MD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
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Answer

This infection is contagious to persons with no previous immunity to VZV. However, it is estimated to be only one third as contagious as primary varicella. It is transmitted either via direct contact with the lesions or via the respiratory route.

Herpes virus infections may occur together in the same host. Of more than 100 types of Herpesviridae viruses, eight are of particular interest in humans: herpes simplex viruses (HSVs)–1 and 2, VZV, cytomegalovirus (CMV), Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), and human herpesviruses 6, 7, and 8 (HHV-6, HHV-7, HHV-8). [14] Postmortem examination of trigeminal and/or facial ganglia detected these viruses in 30 (63.8%) of 47 subjects, with HHV-6 being the most prevalent, identified in 46.8% of them, followed by HSV-1 in 14.9%, VZV in 8.5%, EBV in 8.5%, HSV-2 in 4.3%, and CMV in 2.1%.


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