Herpes zoster recurrences more frequent than previously reported

January 01, 0001

Herpes zoster recurrences more frequent than previously reported

The aim of this study by researchers from the US was to present population-based estimates of herpes zoster (HZ) recurrence rates among adults. To identify recurrent cases of HZ, they reviewed the medical records (through December 31, 2007) of all Olmsted County, Minnesota, residents aged 22 years or older who had an incident case of HZ between January 1, 1996, and December 31, 2001.

Of the 1669 persons with a medically documented episode of HZ, 95 had 105 recurrences (8 persons with greater than 1 recurrence) by December 31, 2007, an average follow-up of 7.3 years. The Kaplan-Meier estimate of the recurrence rate at 8 years was 6.2%. With a maximum follow-up of 12 years, the time between HZ episodes in the same person varied from 96 days to 10 years. Recurrences were significantly more likely in persons with zoster-associated pain of 30 days or longer at the initial episode (hazard ratio, 2.80, significant) and in immunocompromised individuals (hazard ratio, 2.35, significant). Women and anyone aged 50 years or older at the index episode also had a greater likelihood of recurrence.

The researchers concluded: "Rates of HZ recurrence appear to be comparable to rates of first HZ occurrence in immunocompetent individuals, suggesting that recurrence is sufficiently common to warrant investigation of vaccine prevention in this group."

The old teaching of life-long immunity needs to be reviewed.

For the full abstract, click here.

Mayo Clinic Proceedings 86(2):88-93, February 2011
© 2011 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research
Herpes Zoster Recurrences More Frequent Than Previously Reported. Barbara P. Yawn, Peter C. Wollan, Marge J. Kurland et al. Correspondence to Barbara Yawn: [email protected]

Category: S. Skin. Keywords: herpes, zoster, recurrences, frequent, prevalence study, journal watch.
Synopsis edited by Dr Stephen Wilkinson, Melbourne, Australia. Posted on Global Family Doctor 18 February 2011

Pearls are an independent product of the Cochrane primary care group and are meant for educational use and not to guide clinical care.