Chickenpox – An Innocent Looking Threat

Istanbul, Turkey – Varicella, the primary manifestation of a varicella zoster virus (VZV), otherwise known as chickenpox, is a highly contagious disease which occurs in all countries worldwide. Although varicella is a harmless disease in most healthy individuals, complications of the disease may result in death or severe complications in addition to a significant cost burden to the society. The varicella vaccine prevents the disease in 85% of immunized children and provides 97% protection against its most severe forms.

Country-specific epidemiologic and economic data are needed to evaluate the importance of varicella for public health and to facilitate the decision-making process regarding the introduction of a vaccination program. In the study, “Children Hospitalized for Varicella: Complications and Cost Burden,” published in Value in Health Regional Issues, researchers
evaluated the number and cost of hospitalizations for varicella in a tertiary care hospital in Istanbul.  These results can then be extrapolated to the whole country in order to estimate the national burden of this disease.

The researchers discovered that a significant number of previously healthy children are hospitalized in Turkey due to varicella. These children are mostly treated for secondary bacterial infections or neurological complications leading to an important hospital expense. Cases with hematological complications needing blood transfusions or severe infections such as sepsis are associated with an increased cost.

As agreed by the leading authors, Assistant Professor, Özden Turel, Kanuni Sultan Suleyman Training and Research Hospital and Professor Mustafa Bakir: “Surveillance of varicella complications is important to assess the potential impact of a vaccination program. Data gathered on hospitalization expenses will help future cost-effectiveness studies.”

Value in Health Regional Issues  (ISSN 2212-1099) is a scientific journal that encourages and enhances the science of pharmacoeconomic/health economic and health outcomes research and its use in health care decisions. The journal is published up to three times a year with one issue focusing on the Asia region, one issue focusing on the Latin America region, and one issue focusing on the Central & Eastern Europe, Western Asia and Africa regions.

The International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR) is a nonprofit, international, educational and scientific organization that strives to increase the efficiency, effectiveness, and fairness of health care resource use to improve health.

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