Shingles: A Rising Danger

By Kelly McCarthy

December 21, 2012 Updated Dec 21, 2012 at 7:28 PM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) It's a painful illness that doctors are seeing more and more of in the area.

Shingles is a rash that can last up to 4 weeks, and once you get it, there's not much available to treat it.

It's commonly associate with the chickenpox...

The same virus can reappear years later and shut your body down for weeks.

"People talk to each other, and people know how painful this disease is, and how debilitating and painful this could be," said Pharmacist Thomas Giovinazzo, The Medicine Shoppe.

It's not just the talk of Shingles that's increasing.

"The instance of shingles is actually increasing, 1 in 3 individuals will develop shingles sometime in their lifetime," said Dr.Sanjiv Patel, Family Physician at Lourdes.

And there is a way to stop it.

A shingles vaccine is recommended for anyone over the age of 50 who has had chickenpox.

The Medicine Shoppe in Vestal has had customers lining up to get theirs since becoming available in 2009.

"From that time until now it's just been explosive with the amount of vaccine we've administered," said Giovinazzo. "It's been available, it's been advertised, and people don't want to suffer from the shingles so they're coming in to get vaccinated."

It's not as likely but shingles can affect the younger population, and if it does it usually means there's something else that's the real problem.

"If they're under a lot of stress, if they're immune system has been compromised in some way, if they're on long-term steroid use, they're likely and can develop shingles," said Dr. Patel.

Now studies show one in three Americans will develop shingles sometime in their lives.

But don't worry, It's not contagious.

"You can't get shingles from another person, it's a reactivation of the virus so you can't spread shingles to another individual, it's a misconception that some people have," said Dr. Patel.

A healthy lifestyle will help defend against the virus if you're under 50, and if you're over 50....

"Getting vaccinated is probably the single best way of prevention," said Dr. Patel.

Having the chickenpox was bad enough.

The same virus a second time around won't be any better.

Doctors say the Shingles Vaccine is covered under most Medicaid D-plans, without insurance it could cost you up to $200.

The vaccine is a one-time, live vaccine.