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Rev Epidemiol Sante Publique. 2010 Dec;58(6):393-401. doi: 10.1016/j.respe.2010.06.166. Epub 2010 Nov 20.

[Burden of herpes zoster and postherpetic neuralgia: Incidence, proportion, and associated costs in the French population aged 50 or over].

[Article in French]

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Centre d'évaluation et de traitement de la douleur, hôpital neurologique, Lyon, France.



Despite the perspective of vaccination against herpes zoster, there are few recent data available on the incidence of this disease, the proportion of postherpetic neuralgia cases, and associated disease management costs. This study was performed to evaluate these parameters in a representative sample of French physicians.


It was a retrospective, declarative study conducted from the medical files of patients who presented with herpes zoster and consulted in 2005, based on a random sample of GPs, dermatologists, neurologists, and physicians in pain clinics, weighted by demographic departmental distribution of patients aged 50 years and above. The analysis was performed on cases diagnosed by physicians themselves (incident cases).


The annual incidence of herpes zoster was estimated at 8.99/1000 [8.34-9.64], all types of physicians pooled and at 8.67/1000 for GPs. This represents about 182,500 cases of herpes zoster in France in 2005 in patients aged 50 years and above. Incidence was slightly higher amongst women (1.3 times) and increased with age. Amongst the 777 cases of incident herpes zoster, 343 were complicated by postherpetic neuralgia one month after diagnosis. The proportion of patients presenting postherpetic neuralgia at 3 and 6 months was 32.1% and 17.6%, respectively. The annual cost of management of herpes zoster and postherpetic neuralgia was estimated at 170 [109-249] million euros, of which 61.0 million euros were covered by the national health insurance.


In this study, the incidence of herpes zoster observed in France in subjects aged 50 years and above is close to that already estimated in France and Europe. The proportion of postherpetic neuralgia is high and this painful complication may persist for several months after diagnosis of herpes zoster. To our knowledge, EPIZOD is the first study conducted in France to assess the cost of herpes zoster and of postherpetic neuralgia, the most frequent complication of this viral disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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