Enrollment in the Zoster Eye Disease Study
PURPOSE/OBJECTIVE:To present the results of a survey of the Zoster Eye Disease Study (ZEDS) investigators regarding barriers to the enrollment of study participants and approaches to overcome them. METHODS:ZEDS is a multicenter randomized clinical trial supported by the National Eye Institute to determine whether prolonged suppressive valacyclovir reduces the complications of herpes zoster ophthalmicus (HZO), relative to placebo. Enrollment of study participants is currently far below expectations. An institutional review board-approved anonymous internet survey was conducted of ZEDS investigators to study their experiences and opinions regarding barriers to enrollment and various approaches to overcome them. RESULTS:The overall survey response rate was 54% (79/145). Only 29% (23/79) agreed that it is easy to enroll study participants. Regarding patient barriers, 69% (55/79) agreed that HZO patients want to be treated with antiviral medication and 69% (54/78) agreed that HZO patients on antivirals do not want to be randomized. Regarding personal barriers facing investigators, 91% (72/79) agreed that antivirals are effective and 100% that the research questions ZEDS is designed to answer are very important. Fewer than 30% of respondents believed that steps taken to increase enrollment have been very helpful. Over half (54%, 42/78) believed that advertising on social media would be moderately or very effective. CONCLUSIONS:Belief among ZEDS investigators that antivirals are effective, and the preference of patients to be treated with antivirals rather than be randomized in ZEDS, are major barriers to enrollment. New approaches to overcoming barriers are necessary to develop an evidence-based standard of care for treatment of HZO.
Evolution of an Accelerated 3-Year Pathway to the MD Degree: The Experience of New York University School of Medicine
The revision of the curriculum at New York University School of Medicine in 2010, with a reduction of the preclerkship curriculum to 18 months, made it possible to offer an accelerated 3-year pathway in 2013 for students who know their career path. The goals of the program include individualizing education, reducing student debt, and integrating undergraduate and graduate medical education. This accelerated 3-year doctor of medicine (3YMD) pathway is the first program of its kind in the United States to offer conditional acceptance to residency programs in all specialties through the National Resident Matching Program. Since inception of the pathway 6 years ago, 81 students have graduated. Critical components to successfully launch and implement the program are described.Unwavering commitment to the program as a high institutional priority by the dean and vice dean for education facilitated the support required by department chairs and residency program directors and the flexibility needed for success. Alignment between the 3- and 4-year pathways has made it possible to add points of entry into the 3-year pathway during the second and third years and to shift back into the 4-year pathway, as warranted. Modifications to how 3YMD students are mentored included changing the role of the departmental advisor and adding a dedicated 3YMD pathway advisor who serves as an advocate for both the students and the program. Having a relatively large number of 3YMD students has contributed to the success of the program and facilitated acceptance by the residencies.
Incidence Rate of Herpes Zoster Ophthalmicus [Editorial]
Current Practice Patterns and Opinions on the Management of Recent-Onset or Chronic Herpes Zoster Ophthalmicus of Zoster Eye Disease Study Investigators
PURPOSE/OBJECTIVE:To determine practices and opinions among study investigators in the Zoster Eye Disease Study (ZEDS) regarding suppressive valacyclovir treatment for recent-onset and chronic herpes zoster ophthalmicus (HZO). METHODS:An Internet-based survey was distributed to 170 ZEDS study investigators with questions regarding treatment practices for stromal keratitis in HZO and opinions regarding the efficacy of prolonged antiviral prophylaxis. RESULTS:The response rate was 72.4% (123/170). Topical steroids and oral antivirals were used by the majority of respondents for stromal keratitis in both recent-onset (69.1%, 85/123) and chronic HZO (63.4%, 78/123) (P = 0.86). The duration of treatment was similar in both recent-onset and chronic HZO (P = 0.58) with 50.4% (124/246) of ZEDS investigators using prolonged treatment for stromal keratitis due to recent-onset or chronic HZO. The majority of ZEDS respondents believe that oral antivirals are effective during treatment (70.7%, 87/123). CONCLUSIONS:Approximately half of ZEDS investigators treat HZO with prolonged oral antivirals, in addition to topical steroids, and two-thirds believe that it is effective. Completion of ZEDS is feasible and necessary to determine whether or not these practices are effective. Participation in this study is necessary to obtain evidence to support treatment that many ophthalmologists use and believe is effective.
The Importance of Vaccination Against Herpes Zoster
Purpose of Review: In this review, we will discuss herpes zoster, a common, serious, and potentially vision and life-threatening preventable disease. We will also review the two available zoster vaccines and discuss the current Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approvals and Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations regarding herpes zoster vaccination. Recent Findings: The incidence of herpes zoster is increasing, the age of onset is decreasing, and more complications are being reported. The zoster vaccine live (ZVL), which contains a live attenuated virus, has been CDC recommended for immunocompetent adults age 60 years and older since 2008, and FDA approved for immunocompetent adults age 50 years and older since 2011. Under-usage of this vaccine remains a problem. The recombinant zoster vaccine (RZV), which contains a viral antigen in a novel adjuvant, was approved by the FDA in October 2017 for adults age 50 years and older. In January 2018, the CDC recommended this vaccine as preferred for immunocompetent adults age 50 years and older, including those who have received the zoster vaccine live in the past. Summary: Now that there are two approved and recommended vaccines against zoster, including a new one requiring a two-shot series that appears more effective, it should be a high priority for physicians, including primary care doctors, ophthalmologists, and dermatologists, as well as other health care professionals, to increase vaccination rates of adults age 50 years and older against zoster and prevent this painful and potentially devastating disease.
Evaluating Physician Attitudes and Practices Regarding Herpes Zoster Vaccination
PURPOSE/OBJECTIVE:To investigate the knowledge, attitudes, and practice patterns of primary care physicians regarding administration of the herpes zoster (HZ) vaccine at NYU Langone Health (NYULH). METHODS:A cross-sectional online survey was distributed from January to March 2017 to all physicians in the Division of General Internal Medicine and Clinical Innovation at NYULH across 5 different practice settings. RESULTS:The response rate was 26% (138 of 530). Of the surveyed physicians, 76% (100/132) agreed that the HZ vaccine was an important clinical priority, compared with 93% and 94% for influenza and pneumococcal vaccination, respectively (P < 0.001). Only 35% (47/132) strongly agreed that it was important, compared with 68% (90/132) and 74% (98/132) who strongly agreed that pneumococcal and influenza vaccines, respectively, were important. Respondents estimated that 43% of their immunocompetent patients aged 60 or older received the HZ vaccine, whereas only 11% of patients aged 50 to 59 received the HZ vaccine (P < 0.001). The rate of HZ vaccination was lower in public hospitals (26%) than in the NYULH faculty group practice (46%) (P = 0.007). A greater percent (67% and 72%) of their patients have received influenza and pneumococcal vaccines, respectively (P < 0.001). Almost all doctors (99%, 131/132) consider the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations important in determining vaccination practices. CONCLUSIONS:HZ vaccination rates remain relatively low compared with rates of influenza and pneumonia vaccination. The recommendation for vaccination against zoster by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for individuals aged 50 years and older and stronger recommendations by primary care physicians for administration of zoster vaccines are needed to increase HZ vaccination rates.
Zoster Vaccination for Persons Aged 50 to 59 Years [Letter]
Development of Herpes Simplex Virus Infectious Epithelial Keratitis During Oral Acyclovir Therapy and Response to Topical Antivirals
PURPOSE: To describe 3 cases of herpes simplex virus (HSV) vesicular blepharitis that progressed to infectious epithelial keratitis despite treatment with oral acyclovir, but responded to topical antiviral therapy. METHODS: Retrospective review of a small case series. RESULTS: One adult and 2 children presented with unilateral HSV vesicular blepharitis without evidence of corneal involvement. Each patient was placed on a therapeutic dose of oral acyclovir. While taking oral antiviral therapy, the patients developed HSV infectious epithelial keratitis, which was treated with trifluridine 1% solution 9 times daily in the adult and ganciclovir 0.15% ophthalmic gel 5 times daily in the 2 children. All 3 cases showed resolution of epithelial keratitis within 3 to 10 days after initiation of topical antiviral treatment while oral acyclovir was continued. CONCLUSIONS: Oral antiviral therapy alone may not adequately prevent progression of infectious ocular HSV blepharoconjunctivitis. Topical antiviral therapy appeared to enable resolution of HSV epithelial keratitis that arose during oral acyclovir treatment.