Epidemiology and Infection

Varicella – zoster

The health and economic burden of chickenpox and herpes zoster in Belgium

J. BILCKEa1 c1, B. OGUNJIMIa1a2, C. MARAISa1, F. DE SMETa3a4, M. CALLENSa3, K. CALLAERTa5, E. VAN KERSCHAVERa6, J. RAMETa2, P. VAN DAMMEa1 and P. BEUTELSa1

a1 Center for Health Economic Research and Modeling Infectious Diseases (CHERMID), Vaccine and Infectious Disease Institute (Vaxinfectio), University of Antwerp, Wilrijk, Belgium

a2 Department of Paediatrics, Antwerp University Hospital, Edegem, Belgium

a3 National Alliance of Christian Sickness Funds, Brussels, Belgium

a4 Department of Occupational, Environmental and Insurance Medicine, Leuven, Belgium

a5 Interuniversity Institute for Biostatistics and statistical Bioinformatics (I-BioStat), Hasselt University, Diepenbeek, Belgium

a6 Child & Family, Brussels, Belgium

SUMMARY

Varicella-zoster virus causes chickenpox (CP) and after reactivation herpes zoster (HZ). Vaccines are available against both diseases warranting an assessment of the pre-vaccination burden of disease. We collected data from relevant Belgian databases and performed five surveys of CP and HZ patients. The rates at which a general practitioner is visited at least once for CP and HZ are 346 and 378/100 000 person-years, respectively. The average CP and HZ hospitalization rates are 5·3 and 14·2/100 000 person-years respectively. The direct medical cost for HZ is about twice as large as the direct medical cost for CP. The quality-adjusted life years lost for ambulatory CP patients consulting a physician is more than double that of those not consulting a physician (0·010 vs. 0·004). In conclusion, both diseases cause a substantial burden in Belgium.

(Accepted November 16 2011)

(Online publication January 10 2012)

Correspondence:

c1 Author for correspondence: Dr J. Bilcke, Center for Health Economic Research and Modelling Infectious Diseases (CHERMID), Vaccine and Infectious Disease Institute (Vaxinfectio), University of Antwerp, Universiteitsplein 1, 2610 Wilrijk, Belgium. (Email: joke.bilcke@ua.ac.be)

Footnotes

† These authors contributed equally to this paper.

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