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J Infect Dis. 1995 Mar;171(3):701-4.

Racial differences in the occurrence of herpes zoster.

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Department of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710.


The purpose of this study was to determine if there are racial differences in the occurrence of herpes zoster (shingles). The study population was the Duke Established Populations for Epidemiologic Studies of the Elderly, a probability sample of community-dwelling persons > 64 years old in North Carolina. Interviewers administered a comprehensive health survey to the participants that included questions about lifetime occurrence of shingles. Of the 3206 subjects, 316 (9.9%) had had zoster: 81 (4.5%) of 1754 blacks and 235 (16.1%) of 1452 whites had had shingles (P < .0001). After controlling for age, cancer, and demographic factors, blacks remained one-fourth as likely as whites (adjusted odds ratio 0.25, 95% confidence interval 0.18-0.35; P = .0001) to have experienced zoster. In summary, blacks had a significantly lower risk of developing herpes zoster than whites, a new finding in herpes zoster epidemiology.

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