The National Epidemiology Center of the Carlos III Health Institute (ISCIII) together with the CIBER of Epidemiology and Public Health (CIBERESP) have published a study in the Eurosurveillance magazine, of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, on the increase of hospitalizations due to herpes zoster in Spain.
The researchers analyzed the more than 65,000 cases of people hospitalized in Spain for this cause between 1998 and 2018 who were registered in the database of hospital discharges of the National Health System. The data revealed that hospitalizations due to herpes zoster have increased in this period of time and that “vaccination in Spain is well aligned with its clinical consequences”, since it has been confirmed that the cases with the highest risk of mortality and hospital readmission correspond to with the specific population groups in which vaccination is recommended. But what is the disease and how is it transmitted?
What is the herpes zoster virus?
the virus chickenpox zoster It is a herpes virus that causes two diseases. The first of them, the chicken poxIt usually occurs in childhood and there is a vaccine that has been administered for years in children. The second disease is Herpes zosterand arises because the same virus that caused chickenpox in childhood remains latent in the spinal ganglialocated in the spinal nerves, until a situation of immunosuppression appears that reactivates it and causes this infection in adulthood.
According to experts, the disease is characterized by a acneusually painful, which can sometimes be complicated by neuralgia prolonged periods, encephalitis, pneumonia, hearing problems and ocular complications with temporary or permanent vision loss.
How is the herpes zoster virus transmitted?
The first thing we should know is that herpes zoster as such you can’t catch it to other people. However, a person who is manifesting the disease can spread chickenpox at the time the rash appears. That is, an adult patient with active herpes zoster could infect a person who has not previously had chickenpox and cause chickenpox, but not shingles.
Vaccination in Spain
Currently, vaccination against herpes zoster in Spain is recommended for groups of people with a poor immune systemspecifically for transplant recipients, affected by HIV and for people who consume certain drugs to treat inflammatory diseases and tumors.
In addition, given the increase in cases and the risks in the elderly, the aforementioned study supports the recommendation to vaccinate people over 65 years of age, a decision approved by the Public Health Commission of the Interterritorial Council of the National Health System last year. past, which is already included in the lifelong vaccination schedule and which is already taking place.
Finally, according to Zaida Herrador, Noemí López-Perea and Josefa Masa Calles, researchers at the National Epidemiology Center, this research “provides relevant and innovative information on various clinical aspects of herpes zoster, and highlights that this infection represents a public health problem in Spain, which must be given priority, especially due to its growing incidence, its relationship with aging and its special severity in certain risk groups.