Most Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients do not know that they are at a seventy-two percent (72%) increased risk of developing the Shingles Virus (also known as Herpes Zoster). Shingles are a painful skin rash that is caused by the same virus (Varicella Zoster Virus) that causes childhood Chickenpox. "Previously the Shingles Vaccine was not widely given to patients on Dialysis due to concerns of possible side effects and questions regarding its efficacy (effectiveness)," said Dr. Hung Fu Tseng (Lead Researcher). However, newer findings have determined that the vaccine is both safe and even preferred for End-Stage Renal Disease and Dialysis patients.
The Shingles Vaccine was associated with a fifty percent (50%) lower incidence rate of the Shingles Virus among End-Stage and Dialysis patients. If given within two (2) years of beginning Dialysis, the Shingles incidence rate was even lower: Less than one-third (1/3) of the rate in unvaccinated individuals.
While the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended that patients with Chronic Renal (Kidney) Failure take the Shingles Vaccine, until now it was ironically the wide practice of Nephrologists NOT to give their End-Stage Renal Disease patients the vaccine. Now this new Kaiser Permanente study which was published in the Clinical Infectious Diseases will likely change the common practice and encourage Nephrologists to vaccinate their Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients.
While the Shingles Virus is most commonly reported in patients 60 years and older, the Founder of KidneyBuzz.com, Mark Fields (a 16 year Dialysis patient), had experienced the effects of the virus in his 40's. Hence, discuss with your Nephrologists, your risks of contracting Shingles and when it is best to administer the appropriate vaccination.
There is not much that patients can do to prevent Shingles other than taking the vaccine. Readers Digest suggests eating well, exercising to relieve stress, and taking recommended supplements can indirectly help by strengthening the immune system. If you contract Shingles, you should know that the risk of spreading the virus is low if the rash is covered. Avoid touching and scratching, and wash your hands frequently to prevent the Shingles Virus from spreading.
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