[PHNUTR-L] Mayo Clinic article offers data about shingles virus
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Fri Dec 14 09:56:41 PST 2007
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Public release date: 12-Dec-2007
Contact: John Murphy
newsbureau at mayo.edu
Mayo Clinic article offers data about shingles virus
ROCHESTER, Minn. -- When a vaccine to prevent shingles was approved for
use in 2006, the Food and Drug Administration recommended the vaccine
for people age 60 and older who previously had chickenpox. But two
issues -- the vaccine’s cost and the perception that shingles primarily
affects adults with weakened immune systems -- have left some physicians
undecided about whether healthy adults need the vaccine. This
uncertainty prompted a group of researchers led by Barbara Yawn, M.D.,
of Olmsted Medical Center in Rochester, to gather new data about the
incidence and impact of shingles in unvaccinated patients.
Published in the November issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Dr. Yawn’s
research findings suggest that shingles and the complications associated
with it may have a greater impact upon healthy adults than most
physicians previously assumed.
“The best way to make a decision about who we should vaccinate is by
gaining a better understanding about the true impact of this virus,”
notes Dr. Yawn. “Physicians have access to very few recent studies that
tell us how many people in the United States get shingles, what age
groups the virus affects most, and how many of these people go on to
develop related complications or other problems.”
Study rationale and findings
Shingles isn’t a life-threatening condition, but it can cause a painful
rash or band of blisters during an outbreak and other painful
complications that can persist for months or even years. The goal of
this study was to establish accurate, up-to-date data about the
incidence and impact of shingles in the United States before the vaccine
was introduced. Dr. Yawn and her team recorded the number of adult
residents of Olmsted County, Minn., who were diagnosed with shingles and
shingles-related complications from Jan. 1, 1996, to Dec. 31, 2001. Over
the course of the study, 1,669 patients were included.
Researchers calculated that shingles affects at least 1 in every 278
adults in the United States each year. Study data also showed that
shingles is even more common among people ages 50 to 59, affecting about
one in every 24 people each year.
“Overall, our data suggests that researchers and physicians also need to
consider preventing shingles in people ages 50 to 59,” says Dr. Yawn.
“Future research is needed to understand the risk of recurrence of
shingles to better advise people who previously had shingles about the
value of receiving the shingles vaccine.”
Dr. Yawn noted that study data also challenged the assumption that
shingles primarily affects adults with weakened immune systems.
“More than 92 percent of the study subjects with shingles did not have
any conditions like cancer or other serious illnesses that affected
their immune system,” says Dr. Yawn.
Post-herpetic neuralgia was the most common complication noted,
occurring in about 8 percent of all people and increasing with age. This
sometimes debilitating complication causes the skin to remain painful
and sensitive to touch for months or even years after the rash clears up.
“About 18 percent of people age 80 or older experience pain that lasts
more than 90 days beyond the shingles,” explains Dr. Yawn.
Also known as herpes zoster, shingles is an infection caused by the
varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. Anyone
who has had chickenpox can develop shingles because some of the virus
lies inactive in the nerves and can reactivate as shingles. Shingles is
associated with a painful rash or band of blisters that affects a
limited area of the body, most commonly the trunk, wrapping from the
middle of the back and around one side of the chest to the breastbone.
Alternatively, the painful rash may affect the face, scalp or neck or
occasionally an arm or leg. Complications that affect about one in every
five people with shingles include infection of the eye and damage to the
nerve to the eye, which can result in decreased vision. In rare cases,
shingles can also cause temporary muscle weakness or paralysis on the
side of the face affected by the virus.
The shingles vaccine (Zostavax) can prevent shingles in about 61 percent
of those vaccinated. In vaccinated people who develop shingles, the
vaccine typically reduces the severity of the outbreak and the risk for
developing post-herpetic neuralgia.
A peer-review journal, Mayo Clinic Proceedings publishes original
articles, reviews and editorials dealing with clinical and laboratory
medicine, clinical research, basic science research and clinical
epidemiology. Mayo Clinic Proceedings is published monthly by Mayo
Foundation for Medical Education and Research as part of its commitment
to the medical education of physicians. The journal has been published
for more than 80 years and has a circulation of 130,000 nationally and
internationally. Articles are available online at
To obtain the latest news releases from Mayo Clinic, go to
www.mayoclinic.org/news. MayoClinic.com (www.mayoclinic.com) is
available as a resource for your health stories.
Kathrynne Holden, MS, RD < fivestar at nutritionucanlivewith.com >
"Ask the Parkinson Dietitian" http://www.parkinson.org/
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"Parkinson's disease: Guidelines for Medical Nutrition Therapy"
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