Frequently Asked Questions

25. Why does one person with these risk factors get shingles while another does not?

Healthcare providers cannot always be sure what the trigger is in each case. They don't know why the virus reactivates in one person with these risk factors, while in another person with the same risk factors, it does not.

Researchers know that the varicella-zoster virus behaves differently from other viruses, such as the flu virus. Our immune system usually kills off invading germs, but it cannot completely knock out this type of virus. The virus just becomes inactive.

Years later, this virus reactivates if your aging immune system is further weakened by any of the other risk factors. If a person has a particularly severe immune deficiency, the shingles can even recur.

Researchers would really like to understand why some people are NOT susceptible to shingles.