Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a viral infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). VZV is the same virus that causes chickenpox, which is a highly contagious viral infection that was quite common before a vaccine was developed in the mid-20th century.
While shingles have been around for centuries, they were not well understood or recognized as a distinct medical condition until the mid-20th century. The first effective antiviral medication for shingles, acyclovir, was not introduced until the 1980s. Prior to this, treatment options for shingles were limited to pain relief and management of symptoms.
It’s possible that shingles cases were misdiagnosed or not well documented before the mid-20th century. Additionally, the risk of developing shingles increases with age, and life expectancy was much lower in 1950 than today. As a result, it’s possible that shingles were simply less common in the population then.
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