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June 9, 1997

Postherpetic Neuralgia: Predicting and Preventing Risk

Author Affiliations

New York, NY; Laboratory of Clinical Investigation National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases National Institutes of Health Bldg 10, Room 11N228 10 Center Drive Bethesda, Md 20892

Arch Intern Med. 1997;157(11):1166-1167. doi:10.1001/archinte.1997.00440320032004

REACTIVATION OF latent varicella-zoster virus infection, manifest as herpes zoster, is a common disease affecting approximately 20% of individuals at some point in their lifetimes, with about 50% of the risk concentrated in individuals older than 50 years.1 The most common and feared complication of zoster, post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN), afflicts 27% to 73% of individuals older than 55 years.2,3 Age is the most significant and best described risk for PHN.

In this issue of the ARCHIVES 2 articles,4,5 drawing on the extensive computerized database of a large managed care practice, retrospectively summarize an experience throughout 2 years with zoster and its sequelae, including PHN. Citing a recent report of the rising incidence of zoster in their client population, Galil et al4 sought to determine whether the sequelae of zoster were also changing in incidence or character. They report an overall complication rate of zoster of about