Jan. 10, 2008 -- There are about a million shingles patients in the U.S., and almost all of them seek shingles treatment each year, new government statistics show.
Shingles, also called herpes zoster, is caused by the chickenpox virus. Shingles causes a painful rash with blisters, and the pain can last after the rash heals.
The new shingles statistics show that an annual average of 1.1 million people had shingles from 2003 to 2005, and an average of 900,000 per year sought medical treatment for shingles.
People age 65 and older are more than seven times as likely as younger people to have shingles, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey.
Shingles treatment cost an average of $525 dollars per person in 2005 dollars. Patients paid between 29% and 35% of that money in out-of-pocket expenses.
The data were gathered before the FDA approved the first shingles vaccine in 2006. The CDC recommends a single dose of the shingles vaccine for adults ages 60 and older.