Incidence of Herpes Zoster Up for ≥50s With COVID-19 Diagnosis

Increased herpes zoster risk found for those with versus without COVID-19, with more pronounced risk following COVID-19 hospitalization
man holding his back in pain in front of two doctors
man holding his back in pain in front of two doctors

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FRIDAY, April 8, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- For adults aged 50 years or older, those with a COVID-19 diagnosis have an increased risk for developing herpes zoster, according to a study published online March 9 in Open Forum Infectious Diseases.

Amit Bhavsar, M.B.B.S., from GSK in Wavre, Belgium, and colleagues compared the incidence of herpes zoster in those aged 50 years and older diagnosed with COVID-19 and those never diagnosed with COVID-19. A total of 394,677 individuals with COVID-19 were matched to 1,577,346 individuals without COVID-19 by age, sex, herpes zoster risk factors, and health care cost level.

The researchers found that the risk for herpes zoster was increased for individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 versus those without (adjusted incidence rate ratio, 1.15). The increased risk was more pronounced after COVID-19 hospitalization (adjusted incidence rate ratio, 1.21).

"This is the first epidemiological evidence linking prior COVID-19 infection with increased shingles risk among older adults, who are already at heightened risk of shingles due to age-related decline in immunity," Temi Folaranmi, M.D., vice president and vaccines therapeutic area head of U.S. Medical Affairs at GSK, said in a statement. "It is important that health care professionals are aware of this potential increased risk so patients can be diagnosed and treated early if they develop shingles following COVID-19. These results also highlight the importance of preventative measures, such as vaccination, to protect the health and well-being of older adults who are at risk for vaccine-preventable diseases like COVID-19 and shingles."

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the GSK group of companies.

Abstract/Full Text

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