JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Don't forget how severe varicella can be--complications of varicella in children in a defined Polish population.

BACKGROUND: This study aimed to analyze the causes of hospitalization in children with varicella, based on a defined Polish population.

METHODS: This was a retrospective analysis of causes of hospitalization in children under 18 years of age with varicella, treated on the Infectious Diseases Ward of the Children's Hospital in Poznan, Poland from January 2007 to June 2012. The ward serves almost the entire child population of the Greater Poland region (10% of the Polish population - almost 600,000 children). The analysis was based on hospital records. Patients were identified using the International Classification of Diseases Tenth Revision (ICD-10) codes. The case definition consisted of physical evidence of varicella.

RESULTS: A total of 224 children were hospitalized for varicella complications. The median age of admitted patients was 37.5 months (range 6 days to 17 years). Rates of hospitalization decreased with age. The highest rates were among children during their first year. Ninety-two percent of children were healthy prior to hospitalization (no chronic diseases). The most common complications were respiratory tract infections (26%), followed by skin infections (21%) and neurological symptoms (18%). Twenty-five patients (11%) had more than one complication. The most common coexisting conditions were dehydration and otitis media.

CONCLUSIONS: The results presented here serve to remind us that varicella may to lead to severe complications in unvaccinated children and adolescents, and demonstrate the benefits of varicella vaccination. Most children hospitalized with varicella were immunologically healthy. Meningitis was more common in older children (>6 years of age). Streptococcus pyogenes was the most commonly identified bacterial pathogen.

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