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Int J Infect Dis. 2006 Mar;10(2):156-61. Epub 2005 Nov 2.

Chickenpox complications in Saudi Arabia: Is it time for routine varicella vaccination?

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  • 1Department of Infection Prevention and Control, King Abdulaziz Medical City-King Fahad National Guard Hospital, PO Box 22490, Riyadh 11426, Saudi Arabia.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Varicella zoster (chickenpox) infection is a common and benign disease of childhood. The predominance of uncomplicated cases in children tends to overshadow the morbidity associated with severe cases and the resultant hospitalization.

OBJECTIVE:

The objective was to establish the complication rate of chickenpox in the Saudi National Guard population over a 2(1/2)-year period.

METHODS:

All reported cases of chickenpox at the King Abdulaziz Medical City, Riyadh were prospectively followed for development of complications during the period between 1 June 2001 and 30 December 2003.

RESULTS:

A total of 3802 cases of chickenpox were reported and followed during the acute illness phase. The majority of cases, 2984 (78%), occurred in children less than 15 years of age. Among all chickenpox cases, 78 (2%) required hospitalization, and 50 patients developed 58 (1.5%) complications. Skin and soft tissue infections were the most common complications, 20 (34%), followed by pneumonia in 16 (28%), bacteremia in six (10%), encephalitis in four (7%) and necrotizing fasciitis in four (7%). Complications were less common in children (36/2984, 1.2%) as compared to adults (14/818, 1.7%) (p = 0.26). However, pneumonia (p = 0.03) and hospitalization (p = 0.004) were more common in adults as compared to children. The overall fatality rate was 0.05%; two patients died, one aged two months the other 28 years.

CONCLUSION:

These data provide a baseline for morbidity and mortality from chickenpox, and further support the inclusion of varicella vaccine in the routine childhood immunization program in Saudi Arabia.

PMID:
16260166
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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