A few studies lately have linked varicella-zoster virus (VZV), the virus that
causes chickenpox and shingles, with MS. A new study along these lines provides
additional evidence of a connection. In this study, researchers examined spinal
fluid and blood samples from MS cases both in relapse and remission and from
non-MS controls. They found viral particles resembling VZV in the spinal fluid
of MS subjects in relapse but not in subjects in remission or in controls with
other neurological diseases.
Also, they detected VZV DNA in the spinal fluid and blood of MS subjects in
relapse but generally not in subjects in remission. Whether VZV reactivation
leads to relapse or vice versa still needs to be determined. It will also be
interesting to see what effect VZV vaccination, now being administered to
children in the US and other countries, may have on MS rates.