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After recovery from childhood chicken pox, the Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV)is not eliminated from the body but rather, the virus lies dormant (latent), often for decades, in the sensory nervous system. Latent infection may reactivate, in which case the result is an episode of shingles. This usually happens in older people, perhaps because, with advancing age, the immune system fails to keep the virus in check.