A meta-analysis of global herpes zoster virus (HZV) incidence rates found that rates varied by age, sex, geographic region, and year of study data. These findings were published in Infectious Diseases and Therapy.

Investigators conducted a random effects meta-analysis of published literature that included individuals aged 50 years and older. To determine whether variability in HZV incidence rates was due to a combination of study specific characteristics including age, sex, geographic region, and year of study data, the investigators used a meta-regression model.

Overall, 61 records from 59 studies were included in the final analysis. Most studies were conducted in Europe and North America, and 11 and 5 studies were conducted in Asia and Oceania, respectively. On analysis of the included studies, the investigators found variations in both methodology and outcomes, with the greatest heterogeneity in HZV incidence rates found among studies conducted in Asia. Further analysis showed that HZV incidence rates increased in correlation with age and year of study data. In addition, HZV incidence rates were decreased among men compared with women, as well as among those included in studies conducted in Europe and North America compared with those included in studies conducted in Asia and Oceania. The difference in HZV incidence rates between men and women were increased among patients aged 50 to 54 years compared with those aged 80 and older.


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Study limitations included the assumption that studies assessing cumulative HZV incidence had a follow-up duration of 1 year, and most studies did not report the proportion of patients with comorbidities or those who were immunocompromised.

According to the investigators, age was the most important factor in predicting HZV incidence rates. They concluded that “the continent-specific incidence estimates may help guide public health immunization policies for [HZV] prevention.”

Disclosure: This research was supported by GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals. Please see the original reference for a full list of disclosures.

Reference

Curran D, Callegaro A, Fahrbach K, et al. Meta-Regression of herpes zoster incidence worldwide. Infect Dis Ther. Published online December 7, 2021. doi: 10.1007/s40121-021-00567-8