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Vaccine. 2001 Oct 12;20(1-2):121-4.

Seroprevalence of varicella-zoster virus in the German population.

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Institute for Antiviral Chemotherapy, Friedrich-Schiller University of Jena, Winzerlaer Strasse 10, D-07745, Jena, Germany.


The present study was conducted to generate data on the epidemiology of varicella-zoster virus (VZV) infections in Germany as a basis for health economic evaluations of varicella vaccination strategies. The survey was designed as a cross-sectional, age-stratified study of the VZV seroprevalence in the German population. The status of immunity of 4602 individuals a aged 0 to >70 years was investigated by means of an indirect enzyme immunoassay and the fluorescent antibody to membrane assay. After waning of maternal antibodies over the period of 6-9 months seropositivity rates remained low by the end of the 1st year of life. By the age of 4-5 years 62.5% (95% CI; 56.0-68.5) of the pre-school children had already been infected with VZV and at the age of 10-11 years 94.2% (95% CI; 91.0-96.0) of children were positive for anti-VZV antibodies. Among the age-group of >40 years old, only few individuals were susceptible for VZV. The median antibody levels to VZV did not significantly decline with increasing age. In comparison with figures of previous studies the age-specific seroprevalence data presented here do not provide evidence for an upward shift in the age distribution of varicella in Germany. Since the majority of VZV infections occurs during the early childhood, the best option to reduce the circulation of wild-type VZV in the population would be the immunization of young children.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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