How can we better understand trends in varicella zoster virus-related disease epidemiology?

Anita E Heywood and Kristine K Macartney
Med J Aust 2011; 194 (5): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2011.tb02965.x
Published online: 7 March 2011

To the Editor: The article by Nelson and colleagues1 is a welcome contribution to understanding trends in varicella zoster virus (VZV) disease epidemiology in Australia, particularly ambulatory medical attendance, for which few data sources are available. They report a decline in general practitioner encounters for varicella (chicken pox) since the introduction of varicella vaccine that is consistent with the observed 69% reduction in national hospitalisation rates in children aged 1.5 to 4 years seen from January 2006 to June 2008, 2.5 years into the National Immunisation Program (NIP).2

  • National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, Sydney, NSW.



The National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance is supported by funding from the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing and the NSW Health.

  • 1. Nelson MR, Britt HC, Harrison CM. Evidence of increasing frequency of herpes zoster management in Australian general practice since the introduction of a varicella vaccine. Med J Aust 2010; 193: 110-113. <MJA full text>
  • 2. Heywood AE, Macartney K, McIntyre P. The impact of varicella vaccination three years into a publicly funded program [abstract]. Public Health Association Australia 12th National Immunisation Conference; 2010 Aug 17-18; Adelaide, Australia. (accessed Feb 2011).
  • 3. Jumaan AO, Yu O, Jackson LA, et al. Incidence of herpes zoster, before and after varicella-vaccination-associated decreases in the incidence of varicella, 1992-2002. J Infect Dis 2005; 191: 2002-2007.
  • 4. Carville KS, Riddell MA, Kelly HA. A decline in varicella but an uncertain impact on zoster following varicella vaccination in Victoria, Australia. Vaccine 2010; 28: 2532-2538.
  • 5. Brisson M, Edmunds WJ, Law B, et al. Epidemiology of varicella zoster virus infection in Canada and the United Kingdom. Epidemiol Infect 2001; 127: 305-314.
  • 6. MacIntyre CR, Chu CP, Burgess MA. Use of hospitalization and pharmaceutical prescribing data to compare the prevaccination burden of varicella and herpes zoster in Australia. Epidemiol Infect 2003; 131: 675-682.
  • 7. Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. 3.26 Zoster (herpes zoster) [updated April 2009]. In: The Australian immunisation handbook 9th ed. Canberra: DoHA, 2008. (accessed Feb 2011).


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