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Papers And Short Reports

Epidemiology of chickenpox in England and Wales, 1967-85

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1988; 296 doi: (Published 05 March 1988) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1988;296:673
  1. Carol A Joseph,
  2. Norman D Noah


    Routine sources of data on chickenpox morbidity and mortality in England and Wales were reviewed for 1967-85. Only two epidemics occurred, one in 1967 and one in 1980, both of which were immediately followed by two to three years of low incidence. The age distribution of the disease appears to be changing, with more cases now being reported in children aged 0-4 years. The number of deaths in adults have, however, increased, particularly those deaths that are associated with pneumonia and immunosuppression. At present in England and Wales more deaths are attributed to chickenpox than to whooping cough and mumps.

    Widespread use of selective immunisation against chickenpox might be justified in England and Wales, but before routine immunisation of the child population can be considered special surveys to determine the incidence and severity of chickenpox and the effect of the vaccine on the subsequent development of herpes zoster are needed as well as cost-benefit studies of immunisation.