Herpes zoster incidence in a multicenter cohort of solid organ transplant recipients

Transpl Infect Dis. 2011 Feb;13(1):15-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-3062.2010.00547.x.


Background: Immunosuppressed patients are at increased risk for herpes zoster (HZ), but incidence in solid organ transplant (SOT) recipients has varied in multiple studies. To assess incidence of HZ, we examined patients who underwent SOT and received follow-up care within the large multicenter US Department of Veteran's Affairs healthcare system.

Methods: Incident cases of HZ were determined using ICD-9 coding from administrative databases. A multivariable Cox proportional hazards model, adjusted for a priori risk factors, was used to assess demographic factors associated with development of HZ.

Results: Among the 1077 eligible SOT recipients, the cohort-specific incidence rate of HZ was 22.2 per 1000 patient-years (95% confidence interval [CI], 18.1-27.4). African Americans (37.6 per 1000 [95% CI, 25.0-56.6]) and heart transplants recipients (40.0 per 1000 [95% CI, 23.2-68.9]) had the highest incidence of HZ. Patients transplanted between 2005 and 2007 had the lowest incidence (15.3 per 1000 [95% CI, 8.2-28.3]). In a multivariable model, African Americans (hazard ratio [HR] 1.88; 95% CI: 1.12, 3.17) and older transplant recipients (HR 1.13; 95% CI: 1.01, 1.27 [per 5-year increment]) had increased relative hazards of HZ.

Conclusions: These data demonstrate that HZ is a common infectious complication following SOT. Future studies focused on HZ prevention are needed in this high-risk population.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Black or African American
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Heart Transplantation / adverse effects
  • Herpes Zoster / diagnosis
  • Herpes Zoster / epidemiology*
  • Herpes Zoster / ethnology
  • Herpes Zoster / virology
  • Herpesvirus 3, Human*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • International Classification of Diseases
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Organ Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Risk Factors