M(HealthDay News) — A wide range of medical conditions are tied to an increased risk of herpes zoster, according to a study published online May 13 in BMJ.

Harriet J. Forbes, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and colleagues utilized data from the U.K. Clinical Practice Research Datalink to identify 144,959 adults diagnosed with zoster between 2000–2011 and 549,336 age-, sex-, and practice-matched controls. Both groups had a median age of 62 years.

The researchers found that an increased risk of zoster was associated with rheumatoid arthritis (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.46), inflammatory bowel disease (aOR, 1.36), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (aOR, 1.32), asthma (aOR, 1.21), chronic kidney disease (aOR, 1.14), and depression (aOR, 1.15). There was also an association between type 1, but not type 2, diabetes and zoster (aOR, 1.27). Patients with severely immunosuppressive conditions were at greatest risk of zoster, but were not eligible for vaccination (e.g., patients with lymphoma [aOR, 3.90] and myeloma [aOR, 2.16]).

“Current vaccines are contraindicated in people at the greatest risk of zoster, highlighting the need for alternative risk reduction strategies in these groups,” Forbes and colleagues conclude.

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