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Shingles Becoming More Prominent In All Age Groups

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BOSTON (CBS) – It’s a painful virus usually associated with your parents or grandparents. But, it’s not necessarily confined to just them anymore.

The shingles virus is now hitting more young people than ever before; young people like Caroline Radaj.

First, Caroline was in a lot of pain.

“It felt like either I had a pinched nerve or that just someone was constantly stabbing me,” she said.

When she developed a rash on top of the pain, a quick online search led her to shingles and doctors quickly confirmed the diagnosis.

“It’s something that happens in older people. So, for it to happen to a young college student they were little bit baffled at that,” said Caroline.

Researchers say cases of shingles are up six fold across all age groups. And there’s a particularly alarming rise on college campuses.

“Instead of maybe one [case] every three or four months you may be having two or three [cases] each month in the college. And that stands out,” said Dr. Barbara Yawn.

Anyone who’s had the chicken pox can get shingles. The big question is if these younger shingles sufferers will get it again.

“If you got your first case of shingles at 80, it’s not very long until you won’t have to worry about it. But if you get your first episode of shingles at 18 or 20, you’ve got another 60 or 70 years that you’re at risk. And our data suggests that the risk of recurrence is higher than the risk of occurrence,” explains Dr. Yawn.

Technically, shingles is not contagious.

But, the virus can be spread to a person who has never had chicken pox.

There is a vaccine, but it’s only approved for people 60 and older.

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