Six facts about herpes zoster, a disease that affects Justin Bieber

Six facts about herpes zoster, a disease that affects Justin Bieber

with the arrival of Rock in Rio and the acclaimed performance of Justin Bieber, the artist was once again a subject on social networks, being among the most talked about topics on Twitter. The reason would be not only the singer’s presence in Brazil, but his speech during the show, which spoke of love and God – a sensitive reflection on the health problems he has been facing.

For those who don’t know, Justin Bieber revealed in June this year that he was diagnosed with Ramsay Hunt syndrome, an infection of the facial and auditory nerve that causes facial paralysis, hearing problems, vertigo and the appearance of red spots or blisters in the ear region. The disease is caused by the herpes zoster virus, which is also responsible for chickenpox.

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In addition, in 2020, the singer also reported having Lyme Disease, a disease caused by a bacterium transmitted by the bite of a tick and that can affect all systems of the human body – being considered serious. Bieber has also been facing depression since 2019.

Given all this health scenario, Justin has been canceling shows for some time, his performance at Rock in Rio, for example, ran the risk of not happening. Other shows on his schedule, more specifically on his world tour, are yet to be confirmed; as is the case of the shows in São Paulo that take place on the 14th and 15th of September. According to sources at metropolisesthe singer canceled this and other events to take care of his physical and emotional health – an official statement has not yet been released.

What is shingles, one of the diseases that affects Justin Bieber?

Called herpes zoster of the ear (or Ramsay Hunt), the infectious disease is caused by the chickenpox virus, which can recur during adulthood. In general, anyone who has had chickenpox can get shingles, however, the pathogen lies dormant and usually tends to be reactivated from a low immunity in immunosuppressed people, diabetics, children, or the elderly. Ramsay Hunt is not contagious, but if the patient develops blisters in the ears, contact can transmit the virus to people who have never had it in their body.

In Bieber’s case, it is possible that extreme depression and the weakened condition of his immune system due to having contracted Lyme Disease facilitated the reactivation of herpes zoster. In Brazil, for example, the number of cases of the disease increased by 35% during the pandemic, according to a survey by the State University of Montes Claros (Unimontes). Although common, not everyone is aware of the condition that affects people of all ages. Here are six important facts for you to know:

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  1. It starts with chickenpox

Herpes zoster disease results from the reactivation of varicella zoster, the chickenpox virus. According to Carlos Alberto Aita, clinical pathologist and technical manager of DB Diagnóstico, anyone who has had chickenpox, regardless of age, can develop herpes zoster, so it is important to be aware of symptoms such as headache, small blisters and redness of the skin, fever and itching.

  1. Monkeypox “cousin” virus

Varicella zoster is a “cousin” virus of monkeypox, which causes monkeypox in monkeys. So the symptoms can be very similar. “It is essential that the diagnosis is made by means of a laboratory test indicated by a doctor, and not on your own”, emphasizes Aita.

  1. Stress can activate the virus

Doctors and researchers cannot say precisely what causes the chickenpox virus to become active again and cause shingles. What is known is that it sometimes happens when medications and other illnesses weaken the immune system. In addition, the stress factor has also been related to occurrences.

  1. Greater care for eyes and ears

In its most severe form, shingles can affect a nerve in the face and cause paralysis, as happened to singer Justin Bieber. But the infection can also cause pain and blistering around the eye, affecting vision. If the ear is affected, there may be pain and hearing difficulty. “Therefore, it is important to follow up with an ophthalmologist or otolaryngologist to find out if herpes zoster is close to the eye or ear”, explains the specialist.

  1. Higher risk after age 50

Although herpes zoster affects people of all ages, those over 50 are more likely to reactivate the virus as immunity tends to decline as we age.

  1. vaccine to prevent

There is a vaccine to prevent herpes zoster. The immunizer can be found in private health networks (it is not yet available in the public health network). A single dose, the vaccine should be taken even by those who have already had the disease. However, those who have already had herpes zoster need to wait at least one year between the acute condition and the application of the vaccine.

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