[Reactivation of herpes virus infections by vaccination: evidence or coincidence?]

Schweiz Med Wochenschr. 2000 Nov 4;130(44):1685-8.
[Article in German]


Varicella zoster and herpes simplex viruses cause latent infections by persisting in human cells. Reactivation has been associated with increasing age, immunosuppression, cancer, stress, fever, exposure to ultraviolet light, and tissue damage. Based on three cases reported to the Swiss Drug Monitoring Centre SANZ, we postulated previously that vaccinations may trigger reactivation of herpes virus infections due to vaccine-induced immunomodulation. In the meantime, 10 new cases of reactivated herpes virus infections soon after vaccinations have been reported. They involved 5 women and 5 men with an age range between 16 and 60. In only one case had a trauma preceded, otherwise healthy subjects with no known relevant comorbidity were vaccinated. The clustering of reports after publication points to a previous underreporting of similar cases. This may be explained by the fact that both vaccinations and reactivations of herpes virus infections are frequent, and a causal link is not suspected. However, these new cases do not prove causality, and extensive epidemiological or experimental studies are needed to elucidate the possible link between vaccination and reactivation of herpes virus infections.

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Herpesviridae / growth & development*
  • Herpesviridae Infections / immunology
  • Herpesviridae Infections / physiopathology*
  • Herpesviridae Infections / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recurrence
  • Viral Vaccines / adverse effects*
  • Virus Activation*


  • Viral Vaccines