Many Justin Bieber fans are shocked by his illness. What causes Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, how it is treated and how dangerous the disease is.

World star Justin Bieber has addressed his fans with an emotional video. On Instagram, he made it public that he had hemi-paralysis of the face, as reported by the star. The cause: Ramsay Hunt syndrome. This is a viral infection. It attacks his nerves in the ear and face, Bieber reported in the video. The most important questions and answers about Justin Bieber’s illness.

When does the disease that Justin Bieber has now occur?

The Ramsay-Hunt syndrome is called herpes zoster oticus in technical jargon. It occurs when an outbreak of shingles affects the facial nerve near one of the ears. But in addition to the painful rash of shingles, Ramsay Hunt syndrome can cause facial paralysis and hearing loss in the affected ear, the Mayo Clinic says. “It’s a viral infection, a type of herpes infection. That’s essentially the same as the more well-known shingles. And it’s an infection that affects the facial nerve and possibly the auditory nerve,” says neurologist Dr. Magnus Heier the WDR.

How is Ramsay Hunt Syndrome triggered?

Ramsay Hunt Syndrome is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. It’s called Varzilla zoster virus. After a chickenpox infection has cleared, the viruses still remain in the roots of certain nerve cells in the body. “They are in the body and ‘hibernate’ there for many years or decades,” explains the neurologist. If the body is very weak, the chickenpox virus can be reactivated – through stress or infections. A Covid-19 infection also seems to reactivate the chickenpox virus in some of those affected. An evaluation of US health insurance data has shown that people over the age of 50 get shingles more often after surviving a corona infection. 28-year-old Justin Bieber had to cancel concerts in February because of his corona infection.

Who can get the viral infection?

“It can affect anyone who has had chickenpox, and almost everyone has had it,” explains Magnus Heier. Ramsay Hunt syndrome is more common in older adults and typically affects people over the age of 60. It’s rare for kids to go, the Mayo Clinic says.

Can other people get infected with Ramsay Hunt Syndrome?

No, the syndrome is not contagious. However, people who have Ramsay Hunt syndrome should stay away from people who have never had chickenpox. Because: By reactivation of the chickenpox virus, it can trigger an infection with chickenpox in other people.

What are the symptoms of the syndrome?

The most prominent symptoms are a painful, red, blistered rash in, on, or around one ear and paralysis on the same side. The following complaints can also occur:

How is the disease treated?

Combination therapy is recommended in the German guidelines for the treatment of zoster oticus. Virus-inhibiting drugs and cortisone preparations are used.

Are there late effects?

The Ramsay Hunt syndrome must be treated quickly: “So that people can recover as completely as possible and nothing is left – like a small paralysis or a hearing impairment,” explains Magnus Heier. The syndrome can cause complications, such as permanent hearing loss or permanent paralysis. Eye damage can also occur if the paralysis makes it difficult to close one eye.

Can the disease be prevented?

Children are vaccinated against chickenpox. Vaccination against shingles is recommended for people over the age of 60.

Sources: Mayo Clinic, WDR, Corona and shingles study, guidelines, RKI