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Health A-Z

Shingles: A sign of an immunity problem?

Our six-year-old daughter developed shingles recently on her chest and down her leg. We were told by her GP that she got this because she was run down as a result of the chickenpox that she had about a year ago. Although she is back to normal, we are worried that there may be some underlying immunity problem. Are there any further tests that can be done?

Dr Fred Kavalier answers your health question:

Shingles is an infection with the same virus that causes chickenpox. This family of viruses also causes cold sores and genital herpes. The chickenpox virus tends to remain in the body for many years after the illness is over, and at times of reduced immunity it can be reactivated. When this happens, the virus reappears in the form of shingles. But shingles in a six-year-old is unusual - it's much more common in middle-aged and elderly people. It is even more unusual for a child to get shingles in two areas of the body. Your daughter may well have reduced immunity and it would be sensible for her to have some further tests done. There are a variety of immune deficiencies that can affect children, and very occasionally shingles in a child can be the first sign of something more serious, such as HIV infection.

Please mail your questions for Dr Fred to health@independent.co.uk. He regrets that he is unable to respond personally to questions.