Introduction: Herpesviruses might play a role in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative disorders. We sought to examine a possible association between alpha herpesvirus infections and Parkinson's disease. Methods: We conducted a population-based case-control study of incident Parkinson's disease in 2009 Medicare beneficiaries age 66-90 years (89,790 cases, 118,095 randomly selected comparable controls). We classified beneficiaries with any diagnosis code for "herpes simplex"and/or "herpes zoster"in the previous 5 years as having had the respective alpha herpesviruses. In beneficiaries with Part D prescription coverage, we also identified those prescribed anti-herpetic medications. We calculated odds ratios (OR) and 95% CI between alpha herpesvirus diagnosis/treatment and Parkinson's disease with logistic regression, with adjustment for age, sex, race/ethnicity, smoking, and use of medical care. Results: Parkinson's disease risk was inversely associated with herpes simplex (OR 0.79, 95% CI 0.74-0.84), herpes zoster (OR 0.88, 95% CI 0.85-0.91), and anti-herpetic medications (OR 0.87, 95% CI 0.80-0.96). Conclusion: Herpesvirus infection or treatment might reduce risk of Parkinson's disease, but future studies will be required to explore whether this inverse association is causal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-103
Number of pages7
JournalNeurodegenerative Diseases
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • Herpesvirus
  • Medicare
  • Parkinson's disease


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