Multiple Sclerosis risk after Shingles
13th June 2011
Researchers from the Taipei Medical University in Taiwan have found evidence to suggest that sufferers from “herpes zoster” (shingles) are almost four times more likely to then develop Multiple Sclerosis. They examined over 310,000 adult subjects who had the viral disease, and a randomly selected “control group” of 946,650 people, all of whom had not been diagnosed with herpes zoster or any other kind of viral infections.  All subjects were tracked for a one year follow up period, and the researchers discovered that the patients with herpes zoster had a 3.96 times higher risk of developing MS. They also noted that there was roughly 100 days between a herpes zoster event and an occurrence of MS. Multiple sclerosis is a neurological condition that damages the nerves and affects the transfer of messages from the central nervous system to the rest of the body. As with other autoimmune disorders, the exact cause of MS is unknown. A combination of environmental and genetic factors is thought to be linked to its development. The authors of the original study did move to ease any fears though and noted, while they had found that the risk of MS increased significantly in sufferers of shingles, the general numbers of MS were still quite low, as well as the risk of actually developing it.