Patients with a family history of Herpes Zoster, commonly called Shingles, are more likely to have an immediate relative with the condition, suggesting genetic susceptibility to the virus, according to a new controlled study from the University of Texas Medical School at Houston.
The risk increased even more for those with more than one blood relative with the disease, which is marked by painful rashes and blisters.
The goal of the study, published in Archives of Dermatology, was to see if family history would lead to the discovery of genetic markers that could then be used to identify patients who are good candidates for one of two vaccines for the virus.
Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Anyone who has had chickenpox can develop shingles because the virus remains in the nerve cells of the body, and can reappear years later as shingles, the center says.
It usually shows up in people over 50 and those who have compromised immune systems. The most recent studies excluded patients who were immunocompromised.
After selecting 1,114 patients, about half serving as controls, the study found that in cases where patients had a positive diagnosis for shingles, 39 percent reported a family member also had the disease. Just 11 percent of patients who did not have the disease reported a family member also had Shingles.