Phillies' Larry Bowa opens up about Shingles diagnosis

January 24, 2014

Former Phillies Manager Larry Bowa is talking about Shingles, an illness that took him 'out of the game' for weeks.

Bowa says he didn't know much about Shingles until it happened to him, and that's why he decided to share his story.

He was doing interviews Friday on behalf of Merck, the company which manufactures Zostavax, the shingles-prevention vaccione.

Shingles affects about one in every three Americans and is much more commonly seen in adults 50 and older.

It is caused by the same virus as chicken pox.

Basically the virus lies dormant in your body, but as you age it can reappear as Shingles.

Some people only get a mild case, but for others, it can wreak havoc on the body.

Larry Bowa was a fan favorite on the field; a tough player and coach, but on a visit to 6abc, he tells Action News Reporter and Registered Nurse Ali Gorman that he faced his toughest opponent just last year at the age of 66 when he was diagnosed with Shingles.

"As an athlete, I've had a broken ankle. I've had all kinds of injuries; nothing as painful as shingles, nothing," said Bowa.

Pain is the main symptom of Shingles.

Along with a rash, it can appear on the face or side of the body. For Bowa, it was on his right leg.

"It's very red, it's itchy, it tingles and once the sores come out, the sores are not pretty to look at, believe me," he said.

A Shingles rash can last two to four weeks.

Other symptoms include fever, headache, chills and upset stomach.

About one in five will suffer long-term symptoms.

"The nerve damage that it did, as we sit here today, I still feel weakness in that area," said Bowa.

Bowa admits he knew very little about shingles until it happened to him, now he recommends all adults talk to your doctor and learn about the infection.

"I just think it's important that people are aware of how much pain this disease can cause," he said. "I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy."

There is a vaccine for Shingles, and the Center for Disease Control recommends it for everyone 60 and older.

The vaccine can reduce the risk for shingles by about 50-percent for those 60 to 70 years old. It's more effective in preventing the nerve pain which often follows shingles. It is less effective for older age groups.

Research suggests it will be effective for at least 6 years, but may last longer. Studies are being done to see how long it will last.

It's not perfect, but even if you get the illness, the vaccine may help prevent a severe case.

The vaccine, which can cost from $150 to $300, is not covered by all insurance plans, but it is covered by Medicare under Part D. The copay will be about $60-80. Merck also has assistance plans for some.

Healthcare officials recommend that you talk to your provider about shingles and about the vaccine.

Shingles Vaccine:

-reduces the risk by 50%
-may help prevent severe symptoms
-not covered by all insurance plans
-talk to your doctor

Links: (Merck)

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