Low Risk of Herpes Zoster Recurrence in Elderly

Short-term risk of herpes zoster recurrence low, regardless of vaccination status

WEDNESDAY, June 6 (HealthDay News) -- For older immunocompetent adults, the risk of herpes zoster recurrence following a recent initial episode is fairly low in both vaccinated and unvaccinated cohorts, according to a study published online June 4 in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

Hung Fu Tseng, Ph.D., M.P.H., from Southern California Kaiser Permanente in Pasadena, and colleagues compared the incidence of recurrent herpes zoster between vaccinated (1,036 individuals) and unvaccinated (5,180 individuals) matched cohorts of immunocompetent elderly adults (aged ≥60 years) with a recent episode of herpes zoster.

The researchers found that, for adults younger than 70 years, the incidence of recurrent herpes zoster was 0.99 per 1,000 person-years in the vaccinated cohort and 2.20 per 1,000 person-years in the unvaccinated cohort. The adjusted hazard ratio was 0.39 (95 percent confidence interval [CI], 0.05 to 4.45) for those aged younger than 70 years and 1.05 (95 percent CI, 0.30 to 3.69) among those aged 70 years or older.

"Our data suggest that the short-term risk of herpes zoster recurrence following a recent initial episode is fairly low among immunocompetent adults, regardless of vaccination status," the authors write. "While there was a trend towards lower rates in individuals vaccinated with zoster vaccine, especially in those younger than 70 years old, the rarity of outcome limited our ability to make definitive statements about the effect of vaccination."

One of the authors received funding from Merck.

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