Herpes zoster epidemiology, management, and disease and economic burden in Europe: a multidisciplinary perspective

Ther Adv Vaccines. 2015 Jul;3(4):109-20. doi: 10.1177/2051013615599151.


Herpes zoster (HZ) is primarily a disease of nerve tissue but the acute and longer-term manifestations require multidisciplinary knowledge and involvement in their management. Complications may be dermatological (e.g. secondary bacterial infection), neurological (e.g. long-term pain, segmental paresis, stroke), ophthalmological (e.g. keratitis, iridocyclitis, secondary glaucoma) or visceral (e.g. pneumonia, hepatitis). The age-related increased incidence of HZ and its complications is thought to be a result of the decline in cell-mediated immunity (immunosenescence), higher incidence of comorbidities with age and social-environmental changes. Individuals who are immunocompromised as a result of disease or therapy are also at increased risk, independent of age. HZ and its complications (particularly postherpetic neuralgia) create a significant burden for the patient, carers, healthcare systems and employers. Prevention and treatment of HZ complications remain a therapeutic challenge despite recent advances. This is an overview of the multidisciplinary implications and management of HZ in which the potential contribution of vaccination to reducing the incidence HZ and its complications are also discussed.

Keywords: herpes zoster; herpes zoster diagnosis; herpes zoster treatment; herpes zoster vaccination; multidisciplinary management; postherpetic neuralgia.

Publication types

  • Review