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Increased Risk of Multiple Sclerosis Following Occurrence of Shingles

Summary
Researchers from Taipei Medical University in Taiwan conducted a nationwide, population-based study to investigate the frequency and risk of MS following the occurrence of herpes zoster, the virus commonly known as chicken pox or shingles. Researchers demonstrated an increased risk of developing MS within one year of a herpes zoster event as compared to the control group. Jiunn-Horng Kang, Jau-Jiuan Sheu, Senyeong Kao, and Herng-Ching Lin Journal of Infectious Diseases, 2011 June 7 [Epub ahead of print]

Details
Viral triggers, specifically the herpes zoster virus, have long been thought to be associated with MS. Researchers Jiunn-Horng Kang and colleagues followed 315,550 Chinese adults with the herpes zoster virus and a control group of 946,650 for one year to monitor for the development of MS. Results from the study suggest that although low, there is an increased risk of 3.96% of developing MS within a year of a herpes zoster attack. Of the 1,262,200 adults in the sample group, 29 from the study group, and 24 from the control group developed MS during the one year follow-up period. Because the incidence of MS is lower in Asian populations as compared to Western populations, further population studies are warranted to determine if these findings translate globally. Dr. Kang’s study is the first to show the frequency and risk for MS after an initial herpes zoster virus attack.

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