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Clinical Crossroads
Clinician's Corner
July 1, 2009

A 70-Year-Old Woman With Shingles: Review of Herpes Zoster

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Dr Whitley is Vice Chairman, Department of Pediatrics, and Distinguished Professor, Loeb Eminent Scholar, and Professor of Pediatrics in Microbiology, Medicine, and Neurosurgery, University of Alabama at Birmingham.

JAMA. 2009;302(1):73-80. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.822

Herpes zoster is a common late complication of varicella-zoster virus exposure and can be further complicated by postherpetic neuralgia. Ms A is a 70-year-old woman with shingles and Ramsay-Hunt syndrome who presented to the emergency department with a few days of earache followed by pain in the back of her head. Using her case as a springboard, the diagnosis, natural history, and treatment of herpes zoster and postherpetic neuralgia in immunocompetent older adults are reviewed, in addition to the effectiveness of the herpes zoster vaccine.