Study Shows That Post COVID Individuals Have A 59 Percent Risk Of Developing Herpes Zoster Or Shingles!
: The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on global health, revealing the various short-term and long-term consequences of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Among these consequences, the risk of developing herpes zoster (HZ) or shingles after recovering from COVID-19 has remained unclear.
Past studies and COVID-19 News
coverages had shown that SARS-CoV-2 infections can also lead to reactivation of various dormant herpes viruses.
A recent retrospective cohort study by researchers from Chi Mei Medical Center, Tainan-Taiwan aimed to assess the long-term risk of herpes zoster or HZ in patients following a COVID-19 diagnosis, uncovering the potential need for further monitoring and vaccination for this population.
The study was a retrospective, propensity score-matched cohort study that analyzed data from the multi-institutional research network TriNetX. The study team sought to compare the risk of incident HZ in patients with COVID-19 to those without SARS-CoV-2 infection during a 1-year follow-up period.
Hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) of HZ and its subtypes were calculated to measure the association between COVID-19 and herpes zoster (HZ).
The study identified 1,221,343 patients with and without COVID-19 diagnoses who had matched baseline characteristics. These patients were followed for one year to assess the incidence of herpes zoster (HZ) and its subtypes, including HZ ophthalmicus, disseminated zoster, zoster with other complications, and zoster without complications.
Interestingly, the study finding showed that Post COVID individuals had an increased risk of herpes zoster (HZ) by up to 59 percent!
During the 1-year follow-up period, patients who had recovered from COVID-19 had a higher risk of developing herpes zoster or HZ compared to those without COVID-19 (HR: 1.59; 95% CI: 1.49–1.69).
Additionally, COVID-19 survivors had a higher risk of HZ ophthalmicus (HR: 1.31; 95% CI: 1.01–1.71), disseminated zoster (HR: 2.80; 95% CI: 1.37–5.74), zoster with other complications (HR: 1.46; 95% CI: 1.18–1.79), and zoster without complications (HR: 1.66; 95% CI: 1.55–1.77) compared to the control group patients.
Kaplan-Meier curve analysis (log-rank p < 0.05) results indicated that the risk of herpes zoster (HZ) remained significantly higher in patients with COVID-19 compared to those without COVID-19 throughout the follow-up period.
The higher risk of herpes zoster (HZ) in the COVID-19 cohort compared to the non-COVID-19 cohort remained consistent across subgroup analyses regardless of vaccine status, age, or sex.
The study findings highlight the significantly higher risk of herpes zoster (HZ) within a 12-month follow-up period in patients who have recovered from COVID-19 compared to the control group. This finding underscores the importance of carefully monitoring herpes zoster or HZ in this population, as well as the potential benefit of the HZ vaccine for patients with COVID-19.
While the study sheds light on the long-term risks of herpes zoster (HZ) for COVID-19 survivors, further research is needed to understand the underlying mechanisms that may link SARS-CoV-2 infection to the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus, which causes HZ. Investigating the potential benefits of herpes zoster (HZ) vaccination in COVID-19 patients, especially those at higher risk for complications, may help prevent the development of HZ and its associated morbidity in this population.
This retrospective cohort study on the long-term risk of herpes zoster in COVID-19 survivors provides valuable insight into the potential complications faced by those who have recovered from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The significantly higher risk of HZ and its subtypes among COVID-19 patients highlights the need for vigilant monitoring and preventative measures, such as vaccination, in this population.
Healthcare providers should be aware of this increased risk when caring for COVID-19 survivors and consider incorporating HZ vaccine recommendations into their post-COVID-19 care plans.
Further research is necessary to better understand the underlying mechanisms connecting SARS-CoV-2 infection and the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus, potentially informing more targeted prevention and treatment strategies.
As the global community continues to grapple with the ongoing pandemic and its long-term consequences, studies like this one contribute to a growing body of knowledge that will ultimately shape our understanding of COVID-19's lasting impact on public health. By identifying and addressing these potential long-term risks, healthcare professionals and policymakers can develop more effective strategies to protect and care for those who have been affected by the virus.
In summary, the study's findings emphasize the importance of monitoring herpes zoster risk in COVID-19 survivors, as well as considering the HZ vaccine as a preventative measure in this population. As the world continues to navigate the lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, further research is essential to understand the connections between SARS-CoV-2 infection and other health risks, ultimately leading to more comprehensive and effective care for patients.
The study findings were published in the peer reviewed Journal of Medical Virology.
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