• Vol. 38 No. 2, 136–138
  • 15 February 2009

Herpes Zoster as a Useful Clinical Marker of Underlying Cell-mediated Immune Disorders



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Introduction: The objective of this study was to determine the necessity of further evaluation of patients presented with herpes zoster (HZ) to the Emergency Department for the underlying decreased cell-mediated immunity. Materials and Methods: The data of 132 adult patients presenting with HZ to the Emergency Department were collected from the computerised database of Akdeniz University Hospital. The following data were recorded: demographic data and underlying diseases during onset of HZ and laboratory results (white blood cell counts, blood glucose levels). Results: There were 132 patients with HZ in the study period. The mean age of patients was 52.98 ± 18.91 years (range, 14 to 96) and 53% (70 patients) were male. Of the study patients, 70.5% (93 patients) were over 45 years old. Eight (6.1%) patients had been diagnosed to have a malignancy, 18 (13.6%) had diabetes mellitus and 3 (2.3%) patients had undergone organ transplantation during their admission. Malignancy, diabetes mellitus and organ transplantation prevalence in the HZ group was significantly higher than the whole Emergency Department population. Conclusions: Our results indicate a relationship between the presence of HZ and increasing age and cell-mediated immunosuppressive disorders in Emergency Department patients over the age of 45 years. HZ should be considered as a clinical marker of cell-mediated immunosuppressive disorders, particularly in elderly patients.

Herpes zoster (HZ) occurs when latent virus in the dorsal-root ganglia becomes reactivated and causes a vesicular and often painful rash with a dermatomal distribution. The rash may be followed by severe neuralgia that lasts for weeks or even months. An unknown triggering mechanism possibly caused by declining or impaired cell-mediated immunity results in a reactivation of zoster.

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