Home » St. Anthony’s fire, it is an alarm for infections in Rome. «Grown by 20%»

St. Anthony’s fire, it is an alarm for infections in Rome. «Grown by 20%»

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St. Anthony’s fire, it is an alarm for infections in Rome.  «Grown by 20%»

An excruciating pain. Sometimes a great burning, other real stab wounds that reach the abdomen and back. More and more people in the city are trying it: it is Herpes Zoster infection, better known as “Fire of saint Anthony”, so called because traditionally the saint was invoked to pass this burning which takes advantage of the nerves to strike with all its strength. To highlight an increase in cases are the experts of Simit, the Italian Society of Infectious and Tropical Diseases. Its scientific director, Massimo Andreonifull professor at Tor Vergata, explains that Roma is experiencing an “important case”. “We estimate – he says – an increase between 10 and 20%”. The reason? There are several factors that cause it: science has shown that with the Covid-19 pandemic there has been a “reactivation of latent viruses”. And, in this case, we are talking about the varicella virus, which remains “dormant” in the groups of nerve cells in the body and which in adulthood, when it awakens, does so with the very famous (and feared) “fire”. Then, there are all the factors that lead to a reduction in the immune system, starting with other diseases and stress. The fact is that, between 2021 and 2022, says Antonietta Spadea, director of the complex operational unit of vaccinations of ASL Roma 1, the number of people who decided to get vaccinated increased by 13 times. «We ended the year with about 3,500 people vaccinated – she says – Numbers very different from those of previous years. We have carried out a great vaccination campaign and the numbers are continuing to increase ». Certainly still low figures compared to adherence to immunization campaigns against the flu and Covid-19, but which with their peak recorded in just twelve months testify to how much interest from Lazio has increased.

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THE PREVENTION

Today, the expert continues, the Lazio Region is inviting some categories of people to get vaccinated. Among these, also diabetics, those suffering from heart disease, the immunosuppressed, the elderly. There are two vaccines. One is based on live attenuated virus (which, therefore, has the varicella virus “in concentrated form”), which is indicated in the over-50s. «It has good efficacy – says Spadea – it protects 65% from Herpes Zoster and 75% from its complication, post-herpetic neuralgia. Yes, because there can be a month of blisters, itching or discomfort, but then the fear we have is on this very painful neuralgia, which continues even for months ». It is given in two doses, with an interval of 2-6 months. The other vaccine, on the other hand, is the adjuvanted recombinant protein vaccine (with a single dose) which does not have the live virus but one of the viral proteins. «It can be administered from the age of 18, it is indicated for those who have already had a case of the disease because recurrences are probable, but also for immunocompromised patients. It is 95% effective ”, continues the expert, who invites vaccination by asking to present himself at the vaccination centers with a certificate from his family doctor. It is the transmission of the virus from a person who has shingles occurs through direct contact with skin lesions: papules which then evolve first into vesicles and then into pustules. But in the event that one were to become infected, those affected would develop chickenpox and not the “fire” because this is nothing more than a complication of the infection of the virus which, after some time, awakens. There is also a form of Zoster which involves the trigeminal nerve of the eye and accounts for between 10 and 20% of cases.

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