Complications of varicella in healthy children in Izmir, Turkey

Güldane Koturoglu, Zafer Kurugöl, Nuran Cetin, Murat Hizarcioglu, Fadil Vardar, Mehmet Helvaci, Zafer Capar, Ferda Ozkinay, Cihangir Ozkinay
Pediatrics International: Official Journal of the Japan Pediatric Society 2005, 47 (3): 296-9

BACKGROUND: The purpose of the paper was to evaluate the indications of hospital admissions and complications of varicella infection in immunologically healthy children.

METHODS: Between 1997 and 2001, patient records of children hospitalized due to varicella infection were reviewed. Incidence and clinical spectrum of complications and their distribution related to age and seasonal variations were analyzed.

RESULTS: A total of 178 immunocompetent children were hospitalized for varicella complications during the study period. This resulted in a crude incidence of 6.3/100 000 population at risk. All hospital admissions were due to accompanying complications. The majority of complications occurred in preschool-age children with a median age of 3 years. No gender predominance was found. The most frequent complications were infectious complications, which were observed in 79 children (44%). Superinfections of the skin were present in 24 patients. Pneumonia was observed in 59 children: 49 had bacterial, 10 had viral pneumonia. Pyogenic arthritis was seen in two children and one had concomitant osteomyelitis. Group A beta-hemolytic streptococci were recovered from two patients with invasive bacterial infections. A total of 68 (38%) neurologic complications were observed. Cerebellar ataxia was present in 24, encephalitis was present in 17. Infectious complications occurred more frequently in younger children (median age: 2 years), whereas neurologic complications occurred at an older age (median age: 6 years). Hematologic complications were seen in nine children. There was a seasonal distribution of complications with a peak in January.

CONCLUSION: Complications of varicella requiring hospitalization in immunocompetent children are more frequent than previously thought.

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