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Pediatrics. 2002 Jun;109(6):1068-73.

Second varicella infections: are they more common than previously thought?

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To describe the epidemiology and clinical characteristics of varicella reinfections reported to a surveillance project.

METHODS:

We investigated varicella cases reported to a surveillance project between January 1, 1995, and December 31, 1999--with more extensive investigation of cases reporting previous varicella with onset between January 1, 1998, and September 30, 1998--to provide a more detailed description of first and second varicella infections. A simple decision tree was used to assess the likelihood that reported first and second infections were varicella.

RESULTS:

Among varicella cases reported to the surveillance project, 4.5% of cases in 1995 and 13.3% of cases in 1999 reported previous varicella. More than 95% of first infections were physician diagnosed, epidemiologically linked to another case, or had a rash description consistent with varicella; the same was true for reported second infections. People who reported reinfections were generally healthy. There was a family history of repeat infections in 45% of people who reported reinfections.

CONCLUSIONS:

Clinical varicella reinfections may occur more commonly than previously thought. Additional studies of the predictive value of a positive varicella history and laboratory studies of reported reinfections are indicated to guide varicella vaccination policy.

PMID:
12042544
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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