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J Infect. 1999 Mar;38(2):116-20.

Herpes zoster and its complications in Italy: an observational survey.

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Glaxo Wellcome S.p.A., Research and Development, Verona, Italy.



To estimate the rate of Herpes zoster and its complications in Italy.


this is an observational, retrospective study carried out by Dermatologists, Geriatric Doctors and General Practitioners. Details on demography, clinical and therapeutic aspects were reported on record forms. The rate of Herpes zoster was only calculated for patients aged 15 years or more, attending General Practitioners because this was the only group where the number of patients at risk was known. The hypothesis that the rate of complications depends on sex, age and number of affected dermatomes was explored through univariate (Chi-square tests) and multivariate (logistic regression) analysis.


the number of cases of Herpes zoster examined by General Practitioners was 4.1 persons aged 15 years or more/1000/year. Usually, only one dermatome was affected, most frequently the thoracic one. Overall the rate of complications was 26.1% The rate of complications is significantly higher (P = 0.001) in patients with two or more affected dermatomes, it is positively correlated to age while difference by sex is not significant (P = 0.297). Practically all patients received treatment for their disease.


this is the first epidemiological study on Herpes zoster that has been conducted in Italy. It indicates that annually there are about 200 000 people aged 15 years and over suffering from Herpes zoster in Italy, with a considerable number of cases of post herpetic neuralgia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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