Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 20, Issue 8, pp 748–753

The incidence of herpes zoster in a United States administrative database

  • Ralph P. Insinga
  • Robbin F. Itzler
  • James M. Pellissier
  • Patricia Saddier
  • Alexander A. Nikas
Original Articles

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Few recent studies have reported data on the incidence of herpes zoster (HZ) in U.S. general clinical practice.

OBJECTIVE: To estimate the age- and sex-specific incidence of HZ among U.S. health plan enrollees.

DESIGN: Data for the years 2000 to 2001 were obtained from the Medstat MarketScan database, containing health insurance enrollment and claims data from over 4 million U.S. individuals. Incident HZ cases were identified through HZ diagnosis codes on health care claims. The burden of HZ among high-risk individuals with recent care for cancer, HIV, or transplantation was examined in sub-analyses. Overall incidence rates were age- and sex-adjusted to the 2000 U.S. population.

PARTICIPANTS: MarketScan U.S. health plan enrollees of all ages.

MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: We identified 9,152 incident cases of HZ (3.2 per 1,000 person-years) (95% confidence interval [CI], 3.1 to 3.2 per 1,000]. Annual HZ rates per 1,000 person-years were higher among females (3.8) than males (2.6) (P<.0001). HZ rates rose sharply with age, and were highest among individuals over age 80 (10.9 per 1,000 person-years) (95% CI, 10.2 to 11.6). The incidence of HZ per 1,000 person-years among patients with evidence of recent care for transplantation, HIV infection, or cancer (10.3) was greater than for individuals without recent care for these conditions (3.0) (P<.0001).

CONCLUSIONS: The overall incidence of HZ reported in the present study was found to be similar to rates observed in U.S. analyses conducted 10 to 20 years earlier, after age- and sex-standardizing estimates from all studies to the 2000 U.S. population. The higher rate of HZ in females compared with males contrasts with prior U.S. studies.

Key words

zoster shingles incidence cancer HIV 

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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ralph P. Insinga
    • 1
  • Robbin F. Itzler
    • 1
  • James M. Pellissier
    • 1
  • Patricia Saddier
    • 2
  • Alexander A. Nikas
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Health Economic StatisticsMerck Research LaboratoriesBlue BellUSA
  2. 2.Department of EpidemiologyMerck Research LaboratoriesBlue BellUSA

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