The varicella-zoster virus and multiple sclerosis

J Clin Epidemiol. 1998 Jul;51(7):533-5. doi: 10.1016/s0895-4356(98)00030-4.


This article is a review of the evidence suggesting a unique relationship between the varicella-zoster virus (as a possible antigen or antigen mimic) and multiple sclerosis (MS). Both MS and varicella have increased prevalences in temperate zones and both are rare in countries closer to the equator. Migration studies suggest an infectious agent acquired prior to age 14 plays a role in the risk of subsequent MS. Hutterites, who educate their children at home, have less varicella, MS, and herpes zoster than their neighbors and have the appropriate reduced varicella-zoster seropositivity matching these clinical observations. Paradoxically, patients with MS report more herpes zoster, and at an earlier age and more often, than a group of non-MS patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Chickenpox / complications*
  • Chickenpox / epidemiology
  • Chickenpox / immunology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Global Health
  • Herpes Zoster / complications*
  • Herpes Zoster / epidemiology
  • Herpes Zoster / immunology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Multiple Sclerosis / epidemiology
  • Multiple Sclerosis / immunology
  • Multiple Sclerosis / virology*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies