People often wonder how long a virus can live outside the body. This is a highly debatable question in scientific terms as viruses do not fulfill all criteria necessary to be considered a living organism. The average person does not care about these definitions. He just needs to know how long a specific virus can live outside the body.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

How Long Can the Shingles Virus Live Outside the Body?

Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox 1. The virus can live outside of the body for up to 24 hours.

Reducing the Risk of Exposure

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While it is unlikely the virus will live very long outside the body in any case, wiping exposed items with chlorine bleach kills most viruses.

Vaccinations for Shingles are Available

Shingles occurs most often in adults over 50. People at risk for developing shingles should see their doctor and be given this vaccine.

The Chicken Pox Virus Stays Dormant in the Body

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While a human body will develop a strong immunity to chicken pox after catching the disease as a child, the virus stays dormant in the body 1. It will occasionally challenge a person’s immune system to test for weaknesses.

Other Factors that Increase a Person's Risk of Getting Shingles

Diseases that weaken a person’s immune system increase the chance that they might develop a shingles rash. A shingles rash only occurs on one side of the body at a time.

How Long Before Symptoms Develop?

Shingles can happen as early as 10 years after chicken pox exposure 1. A person exposed to the chicken pox virus will show symptoms within 21 days of first exposure 1.