Type 2 Diabetes – Are Diabetics Susceptible to Developing Shingles?

It is known having Type 2 diabetes affects the immune system, making diabetics susceptible to many different types of infections. In June 2014, the medical journal Infection reported the results of a study carried out on shingles, which is also known as herpes zoster, in people who have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. People who had chickenpox have the virus in their nervous system where it usually lies dormant. Occasionally it causes shingles, a painful burning rash on the skin over a nerve. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, United States, one in three people develop shingles during their lifetimes and 10 percent of those will develop postherpetic neuralgia. Postherpetic neuralgia causes pain for months or even years. Ten to 25 percent of shingles incidents can cause scarring of the face, and blindness.

Researchers at GlaxoSmithKline Vaccines in Wavre, Belgium compared the number of shingles cases in…

  • 380,401 people with Type 2 diabetes to those in over
  • one million nondiabetic individuals.

Over a period of 9 years…

  • Type 2 diabetics 65 years of age and older, had more than three times the risk of shingles than did nondiabetic participants.
  • diabetic participants between 40 and 64 years of age had a 51 percent higher risk of shingles than nondiabetics in the same age group.

From the above information it was concluded their work suggests an increased risk of shingles in those people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

Shingles is treated with…

  • antiviral medications, acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir.
  • anti-pain medications are also sometimes used.
  • persistent pain can be treated with antidepressants.

Zostavax, a vaccine developed by the US drug company, Merck, is partially successful at preventing shingles. It also reduces the severity and length of episodes in some, and reduces the risk of chronic pain.

GlaxoSmithKline is currently recruiting patients for a phase 3 study of its new herpes zoster vaccine…

  • In phase 1, new drugs are tested on healthy individuals to determine how safe the new drugs are.
  • In phase 2, the medications are tested on volunteers to learn how effective they are in doing the job they are intended to do.
  • In phase 3, they are retested to confirm their safety and efficacy, often on subgroups of individuals with special health needs.

To volunteer for a study of the new vaccine in people 50 years of age and over, see http://clinicaltrials.gov/show/NCT02075515