Asthma

Updated 02 August 2017

Asthma in kids raises shingles risk

Children with asthma have a higher risk for developing shingles - a painful skin rash - following infection with the herpes zoster virus, new research reveals.

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Children with asthma have a higher risk for developing shingles - a painful skin rash - following infection with the herpes zoster virus, new research reveals.

Typically it's a problem that strikes men and women over the age of 60 or people with weakened immune systems.

Researchers analysed 277 medical records involving patients under the age of 18 who had experienced an episode of shingles between 1996 and 2001.

Stacking up the shingles cases against 277 children who had no history of shingles, the team found that asthmatic patients were 2.2 times more likely to have a case of shingles compared to those who did not have asthma.

While 23% of the shingles patients had a history of asthma before the onset of shingles, only 35 patients without shingles (about 12.5%) had asthma in their past.

"It had previously been unknown whether asthma status poses an increased risk of shingles among children," study author Dr Young Juhn, a paediatrician at Mayo Clinic Children's Center in Rochester, Minn., said. "These results suggest that asthma significantly increases the risk for shingles in children."

The researchers' previous work found that microbial infections in people with asthma came from airway-related conditions such as strep infections and whopping cough and serious pneumococcal disease.

"However, shingles is not an airway-related illness, and cell-mediated immune function is an important host-defence mechanism from developing shingles," Juhn said.

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More information

For more on shingles, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.


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Professor Keertan Dheda has received of several prestigious awards including the 2014 Oppenheimer Award, and has published over 160 peer-reviewed papers and holds 3 patents related to new TB diagnostic or infection control technologies. He serves on the editorial board of the journals PLoS One, the International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Medicine, Lancet Respiratory Diseases and Nature Scientific Reports, amongst others.Read his full biography at the University of Cape Town Lung Institute

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