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Shingles: a latent disease that manifests with aging

When we reach a certain age, we expect that many events will affect us. However, an 82-year-old Quebecer felt really helpless when she noticed a painful rash on her skin.

Over 90% of Quebecers over the age of 50 are potentially predisposed to shingles, a disease caused by the reactivation of the chickenpox virus. This disease usually manifests as a painful rash. Given the approximately 27,000 new cases appearing each year in Quebec, shingles is an increasingly important public health issue, especially due to the aging of the population.

"I had no idea what was in store for me," said Louisette, married for 61 years and nine times great-grandmother. "For five months I suffered from intense itching and at one point the pain became so severe that I had to be hospitalized. Being very active, I found it very difficult to feel so weak. The pain associated with shingles is often described as numbness, tingling, or a burning sensation that can simply be caused by clothing rubbing against the skin.

Significant repercussions on the Quebec health system Since the immune system weakens with age, the risk of shingles increases after 50 years. In 2017, nearly 27,000 new cases were diagnosed in Quebec and it is estimated that approximately 30% of the population will be affected by shingles during their lifetime.

Beyond the impact on the quality of life of people with shingles, shingles is a public health issue as well as a burden for the Quebec health system. According to a recent report from the Quebec Immunization Committee, the average annual cost of shingles for the Quebec healthcare system is estimated to be around $ 25 million. It is also estimated that shingles causes 600 hospitalizations and 10 deaths each year.

“At the worst of my symptoms, I couldn't go out. I even thought I could not attend my granddaughter's wedding, says Louisette. I know I may have other episodes of shingles, but if my testimony can help other people, I would be very happy. I think it helps to get to know the disease and, if possible, to know how to help prevent it. "

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