Posey catches balls, but can't catch a break. Rash not shown.
No sooner was SF Giants catcher Buster Posey back from his collison-induced broken leg than he was taken out of the game again for an entirely unrelated condition: Shingles. Yes, the sneaky virus, that remains hidden in the spinal nerves of any of us who succumbed to chicken pox in childhood, broke out with small water blisters along Posey's left underarm, left side and back. He was scratched from the game, put on antiviral pills and was off the lineup for...24 whole hours.
What gives? When David Letterman had shingles he was shut out of late night TV for a whole month.
Last year, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa came down with shingles on his face. Note the characteristically bizarre appearance of a rash that follows the nervous system showing swelling and blisters that abruptly stop in the midline. While his team went on to win the World Series 6 months later, he then abruptly retired, a decision that some speculated was partly due to the ongoing pain of shingles.
So how could Posey bounce back so quickly? Turns out shingles (also known as herpes zoster, a name that sounds confusingly like herpes, a related but different virus) can result in a painful nerve damage known as neuralgia. Stabbing pain can persist for months...in the elderly. 25 year-old Posey appears to be following the young person's course, usually more itchy than painful and resolving much more quickly.
Which is why American's new favorite pastime may be getting a shingles vaccine. Healthier than popcorn and a hot dog, the FDA has approved this vaccine for adults age 50 and above. It safely boosts the body's immune response against the virus. For the majority of those vaccinated, shingles is entirely avoided. Some may progress to shingles, but usually with a milder, less painful version. Batter up!