Background: The incidence and risk factors for herpes zoster have been studied in cross-sectional and cohort studies, although most such studies have been conducted in Western countries. Evidence from Asian populations is limited, and no cohort study has been conducted in Asia. We are conducting a 3-year prospective cohort study in Shozu County in Kagawa Prefecture, Japan to determine the incidence and predictive and immunologic factors for herpes zoster among Japanese.
Methods: The participants are followed for 3 years, and a telephone survey is conducted every 4 weeks. The participants were assigned to 1 of 3 studies. Participants in study A gave information on past history of herpes zoster and completed health questionnaires. Study B participants additionally underwent varicella-zoster virus (VZV) skin testing, and study C participants additionally underwent blood testing. If the participants develop herpes zoster, we evaluate clinical symptoms, measure cell-mediated immunity and humoral immunity using venous blood sampling, photograph skin areas with rash, conduct virus identification testing by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and virus isolation from crust sampling, and evaluate postherpetic pain.
Results: We recruited 12 522 participants aged 50 years or older in Shozu County from December 2009 through November 2010. The participation rate was 65.7% of the target population.
Conclusions: The present study is likely to provide valuable data on the incidence and predictive and immunologic factors for herpes zoster in a defined community-based population of Japanese.
2012 by the Japan Epidemiological Association