While the incidence rate of herpes zoster, commonly known as shingles, is 1 million cases annually in the United States, shingles is the underlying cause of death for only 96 Americans annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Almost all deaths occurred in elderly or immunosuppressed people.
Only people who had a natural chickenpox infection or had a chickenpox vaccination can develop shingles, says the CDC. The risk for developing shingles sharply increases after the age of 50. Nearly one-third of people in the United States develop shingles during their lifetimes. Studies have shown a higher rate of shingles diagnosis in women compared to men.