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Seroepidemiology of varicella-zoster in Pakistan.

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1
Civil Hospital, Karachi, Pakistan.

Abstract

The availability of safe and effective vaccines has renewed interest in the epidemiology of varicella worldwide. To date published data on the epidemiology of varicella in Pakistan is very scarce. Therefore, we conducted a study to determine the age-specific seroprevalence rate of varicella-zoster virus (VZV) antibodies in Pakistan. Between December 1997 and March 1998, 1,509 healthy volunteers aged between 1 month and 30 years were recruited from the Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi areas. Demographic information, socioeconomic status and past medical history were obtained by questionnaire. Serum samples were assayed for IgG antibodies against VZV by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Overall 41.8% (600/1,435) of those tested were found to be seropositive for VZV antibodies. No difference was found in results obtained from the different cities. A higher seroprevalence was observed among women (45.2%) compared to men (39.6%). Seroprevalence rates increased with age and were 28.4% in those aged 0-5 years, 41.5% in the 6-10 year age group, 42.5% in the 11-15 year age group, 46.7% in the 16-20 year age group and 53.6% in those aged 21-30 years. Socioeconomic status was not a significant risk factor for VZV seropositivity. This is the first report of the seroepidemiology of VZV in Pakistan. The results indicate that seroprevalence of VZV increases with age in the Pakistani population studied. As in other tropical countries, there is greater susceptibility to varicella among the adolescent and young adult population. The results of this study suggest that these at-risk groups should be included in vaccination programs aimed at reducing the public health impact of varicella.

PMID:
11414405
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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