Shingles may run in families, study suggests

June 3, 2008

Houston - New research indicates that shingles may be genetic, Reuters reports.

Houston - New research indicates that shingles may be genetic, Reuters reports.

A research team from the University of Texas Medical School at Houston looked at 1,027 people treated at a Houston clinic between 1992 and 2005, half of whom had shingles and the rest, skin conditions other than shingles. The study, reported in a recent issue of Archives of Dermatology, found that the patients with shingles were about four times as likely as the others to have had a close family member with the disease.

Overall, 39.3 percent of the shingles patients had a shingles-afflicted relative, compared with 10.5 percent of the other patients.

Reuters quotes research participant Stephen K. Tyring, M.D., as saying, “The genetic propensity, in the broadest sense, would make reactivation of the virus more likely. But it may also be a genetic propensity to have a lower threshold to stress, if stress indeed is a trigger. Since we now have a vaccine (Zostavax) to prevent shingles, we can urge those who have had blood relatives with shingles to be first in line to get vaccinated.”

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