What microorganism causes shingles? Provide background information on this organism. 

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ncchemist eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shingles is a disease that is caused by the same microorganism that causes chickenpox in children.  Shingles usually occurs in adults who have had chickenpox in their past and is characterized by a skin rash with blisters.  Shingles is technically called herpes zoster and it is caused by the varicella zoster virus (VZV).  After becoming infected with VZV as a child, the virus can become latent and reside in specific nerve cells for many years with no sign of illness.  In some cases, the virus can become re-activated and travel down the nerve cells to infect the skin in the region with a rash.  That is why shingles tends to be localized to a particular part of the body.  The exact reason for the latent virus becoming reactivated years later is not understood.