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Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases and Medical Microbiology
Volume 21, Issue 1, Pages 45-52

Management and Prevention of Herpes Zoster: A Canadian Perspective

Guy Boivin,1 Roman Jovey,2 Catherine T Elliott,3 and David M Patrick3

1Research Centre in Infectious Diseases of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Québec and Laval University, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
2Centres for Pain Management, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
3BC Centre for Disease Control and University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Copyright © 2010 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Varicella-zoster virus reactivation leads to herpes zoster – the main complication of which is postherpetic neuralgia (PHN). Rapid antiviral therapy initiated within 72 h of rash onset has been shown to accelerate rash healing, reduce the duration of acute pain and, to some extent, attenuate the development and duration of PHN. Other adjunctive therapies such as analgesics, antidepressants and some anticonvulsants are frequently required in the management of severe PHN. A live, attenuated zoster vaccine has been recently shown to significantly decrease herpes zoster incidence, PHN and the overall burden of illness when administered to adults older than 60 years of age. This new prophylactic modality has been reported to be cost-effective in the Canadian context, especially in the 60- to 75-year-old age group.