Herng-Ching Lin and colleagues at Taipei Medical University in Taiwan tracked 315,550 adults with herpes zoster (shingles), and a control group of 946,650 subjects were tracked and then evaluated for MS occurrence during a one-year follow-up period.
MS is an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord, leading to inflammation and nerve damage as the body's immune cells attack the nervous system.
The control group was selected randomly from a pool of subjects who had not been diagnosed with herpes zoster or other viral diseases.
The study, published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases, found the group with herpes zoster had a 3.96 times higher risk of developing MS than the control group.
The authors noted that this risk, although increased, was still low, as is the frequency of MS in general, but the study also noted an interval of approximately 100 days between a herpes zoster event and occurrence of MS.