HealthDay News — From 2004 to 2012, there was a more than threefold increase in the incidence of herpes zoster ophthalmicus (HZO) across the United States, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, held from April 28 to May 2 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Nakul Shekhawat, M.D., M.P.H., from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues analyzed health claims data for 21 million patients enrolled in a nationwide managed care plan from 2001 to 2016. Patients were enrolled for three years and had no record of HZO during that timeframe. After that period, patients were followed longitudinally and observed for incident HZO.

The researchers found that the incidence of HZO increased considerably between 2004 and 2016, from an incidence of 9.4 to 30.1 cases per 100,000. Women and adults older than 75 years of age had the highest rates of HZO (29.1 and 53 cases per 100,000, respectively). Whites had higher rates of HZO than other racial groups, including blacks, Asians, and Latinos (30.6 versus 23.4, 21.0, and 14.6 cases per 100,000, respectively).

“Older patients were at far greater risk for HZO, highlighting just how important it is for older adults to get the shingles vaccination,” Shekhawat said in a statement.

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