Pathophysiology: Little is known about the route and the source of transmission of the virus. VZV is certainly transmissible through the airborne route and does not require close personal contact. The skin lesions are certainly full of infectious virus particles whilst in contrast, it is almost impossible to isolate virus from the upper respiratory tract. It is possible that aerial transmission originates from symptomless oral lesions.
Disease statistics: Annually, 270 per 100,000 persons received antiviral treatment for herpes zoster, and the prescription rate increased with age. It was approximately 50% higher in females than in males in the age 50+ population (rate ratio 1.39; 95% CI, 1.22 to 1.58). The overall hospitalization rate for herpes zoster was 6.9/100,000 with an approximately three-fold increase for patients over 80 years of age compared to the age 70-79 group. A gender difference in hospitalization rates was observed: 8.1/100,000 in females and 5.6/100,000 in males.
Treatment: Several studies indicate that antiviral medications decrease the duration of symptoms and the likelihood of postherpetic neuralgia, especially when initiated within 2 days of the onset of rash. In typical cases that involve individuals who are otherwise healthy, oral acyclovir may be prescribed. An important study by Kubeyinje (1997) suggested that the use of acyclovir in healthy young adults with zoster is not clearly justified, especially in situations of limited economic resources.
Research: Disease burden of herpes zoster in Sweden - predominance in the elderly and in women - a register based study. This study demonstrate the significant burden of herpes zoster disease in the pre-zoster vaccination era. A strong correlation with age in the herpes zoster- related incidence, hospitalization, complications, and mortality rates was found. In addition, the study provides further evidence of the female predominance in herpes zoster disease.