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Shingles May Be Related to an Increased Risk of MS

February 29, 2016

Taiwanese investigators have found a higher risk of MS during a 12 month follow-up after having shingles (also known as herpes zoster). Common risk factors for multiple sclerosis are genetics, environmental causes, and viral factors.

Researchers looked at 315,550 adults with herpes zoster and 946,650 control participants, tracked and evaluated for 12 months to determine the risk of multiple sclerosis. After adjusting the data, the researchers found that adults with herpes zoster had nearly a 4% greater risk of multiple sclerosis, compared to the controls.

While this risk may be small, it allows other researchers a better view of how the disease operates. They now know more about viral factors as an MS risk going forward. An accompanying editorial stated that this study should take place in other parts of the world, as the Asian population has a low prevalence of MS.

Roughly 25 percent of healthy adults will get shingles in their lifetime, and no one is immune from contracting it. Shingles often appears later in life in a person who has previously had chicken pox. It is important to note that there are vaccines available to help lower the risk of shingles.