IBD Increases Risk of Shingles, More Vaccinations Needed, Study Says

IBD Increases Risk of Shingles, More Vaccinations Needed, Study Says
People with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) appear to have an increased risk of herpes zoster infection (shingles), and Canadian researchers warn that low vaccination rates have been insufficient to reduce infection among IBD patients, a problem that continues to rise. They recommend that vaccination against the virus should be considered early by clinicians and promoted by public health programs, especially in patients older than 50 and in those receiving biologic therapies. Their study, “Herpes Zoster Infection and Herpes Zoster Vaccination in a Population-Based Sample of Persons With IBD: Is There Still an Unmet Need?” was published in the journal Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. Herpes zoster infection, commonly known as shingles, is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. After someone has chickenpox, the virus usually remains "silent" in the body, but often reappears years or decades later as shingles, marked by an outbreak of rash or blisters on the skin. The virus generally wakes when the immune system is suppressed or weakens with aging. The infection negatively impacts a person’s quality of life and can be associated with complications and even death in those with an impaired immune system. So far, there has been little information about the incidence of the virus and vaccination rates — which can reduce the incidence of infection by 50-70% — especially in IBD patients. Due to their chronic inflammatory condition or because they are taking immunomodulatory medications, IBD patients may be at a higher risk of developing shingles. Researchers at the University of Manitoba in Canada conducted a population-based study which compared herpes zoster infection-related data of IBD patients with heal
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