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Leake’s Shingles is Serious Matter

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Mike Leake has been placed on the disabled list with shingles (also known as postherpetic neuralgia). It is caused by the same virus that once led to the sufferer having chickenpox. Postherpetic neuralgia affects nerve fibers and skin, causing burning pain that lasts long after the rash and blisters of shingles pass.

A pain management specialist, who is also a member of SABR, wondered aloud if this is a first for a Major League Baseball player. He wrote the following on Tuesday.

Mike Leake (Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports Images)

“It is very odd for any young person whose immune system isn’t compromised such as one being treated for cancer to develop shingles, so I’m curious to see if we’ll receive any more info on Leake,” he said.  “In my career as a pain management specialist, I can’t recall ever seeing anyone less than age 40 with this who didn’t have a compromised immune system – and even then it is still relatively uncommon in that age group.  It is primarily a disease of those closer to or actually in the geriatric population.”

However, a simple Google search indicates a number of articles noting a rapid rise in shingles cases in younger people over the past few years. The potentially painful virus can hit when a person’s immune system is down and stress levels are up. A professional baseball pitcher could easily fit that profile.

The condition is clearly serious, even beyond its painful symptoms. Recent research suggests younger people with shingles have an increased risk of heart attack and other vascular complications.

The pain management specialist closed with the following advice. “If anyone isn’t aware, shingles is one of the most painful conditions around,” he said. “If you’re 60 or older and haven’t yet gotten the shingles vaccine, do yourself a favor and get it.”

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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15 Responses to “Leake’s Shingles is Serious Matter”

  1. JumboShrimp says:

    good advice about taking the vaccine. Sounds like shingles are horrible

  2. crdswmn says:

    My father had shingles. He was absolutely miserable for more than a month.

    Shingles is unusual for someone Leake’s age. I said that exact thing when I heard he had it. I am not 60 years old yet, but close, and I will get the vaccine for sure.

  3. JumboShrimp says:

    I have reward sympathy for the outbreak TLR suffered during 2011. No wonder he retired from managing.

  4. Brian Walton says:

    I have learned that other major leaguers who recently had shingles include Buster Posey in 2012 and LaTroy Hawkins in 2009. Posey was able to play through it, but like with Leake, it put Hawkins on the DL.

    La Russa struggled with shingles for two months during the 2011 season. He missed six games and was treated at the Mayo Clinic.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      It’s interesting that other young athletes have had outbreaks. Leake is not unique in relation to shingles.
      Given posey has been terrific, this suggests the prognosis for Leake in terms of resuming baseball is good

  5. Bw52 says:

    My significant other Jackie had shingles and after seeing how she suffered with it and how miserable she was I got the vaccine as soon as possible.Glad I did.Why take the chance of putting yourself thru the pain and misery.

  6. JumboShrimp says:

    Was at a restaurant with Marlins hosting The Mutts.
    Barraclough struck it cespedes and the X man, Scruugsie Scruggs, doubled DeGrom off the right field wall.

  7. blingboy says:

    Should have told him to walk it off.

  8. Bw52 says:

    What is with all the cloak and dagger BS from the Cards about letting people know who is getting called up?

  9. Bw52 says:

    Why all the silence about who is coming up ftom minors?Memphis is not in the playoff race so why so silent about who is getting the callup?

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