Ophthalmologists advised to be aware of herpes zoster infection
NEW ORLEANS – Clinicians need to keep on the lookout for herpes zoster infections, especially in older patients, according to a speaker.
“Older patients have a greater risk of herpes zoster,” Elisabeth J. Cohen, MD, said during Cornea Subspecialty Day preceding the American Academy of Ophthalmology meeting. “The risk starts to go up significantly after age 40 and rises sharply after age 50.”
Fifty percent of the population who live to age 85 years have herpes zoster. One million cases of herpes zoster are reported in the United States annually; 10% to 20% of these cases involve the first division of the fifth cranial nerve, a serious complication, Cohen said.
The herpes zoster vaccination has been proven to be safe and effective and has reduced the overall disease burden by 61%, she said.
Keen patient surveillance, patient alerts and physician education may help reduce the incidence of herpes zoster, Cohen said.
Clinicians are launching a large clinical trial to further scrutinize the incidence and severity of herpes zoster infections, she said.
Disclosure: Cohen is a consultant for Merck.