The epidemiology and economic impact of varicella-related hospitalizations in Turkey from 2008 to 2010: A nationwide survey during the pre-vaccine era (VARICOMP study)

Ener Cagri Dinleyici, Zafer Kurugol, Ozden Turel, Nevin Hatipoglu, Ilker Devrim, Hasan Agin, Ilker Gunay, Olcay Yasa, Muferet Erguven, Nuri Bayram, Ali Kizildemir, Emre Alhan, Emine Kocabas, Hasan Tezer, H. Hakan Aykan, Nazan Dalgic, Betul Kilic, Gulnar Sensoy, Nursen Belet, Nihan Uygur KulcuAysu Say, Mehmet Ali Tas, Ergin Ciftci, Erdal Ince, Halil Ozdemir, Melike Emiroglu, Dursun Odabas, Zeynel Abidin Yargic, Cagatay Nuhoglu, Kursat Bora Carman, Solmaz Celebi, Mustafa Hacimustafaoglu, Murat Elevli, Zahide Ekici, Umit Celik, Meda Kondolot, Mustafa Ozturk, Anil Tapisiz, Metehan Ozen, Harun Tepeli, Aslinur Parlakay, Ates Kara, Ayper Somer, Bahar Caliskan, Sevtap Velipasalioglu, Selim Oncel, Emin Sami Arisoy, Ekrem Guler, Tahir Dalkiran, Denizmen Aygun, Saadet Akarsu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Varicella can cause complications that are potentially serious and require hospitalization. Our current understanding of the causes and incidence of varicella-related hospitalization in Turkey is limited and sufficiently accurate epidemiological and economical information is lacking. The aim of this study was to estimate the annual incidence of varicella-related hospitalizations, describe the complications, and estimate the annual mortality and cost of varicella in children. VARICOMP is a multi-center study that was performed to provide epidemiological and economic data on hospitalization for varicella in children between 0 and 15 years of age from October 2008 to September 2010 in Turkey. According to medical records from 27 health care centers in 14 cities (representing 49.3% of the childhood population in Turkey), 824 children (73% previously healthy) were hospitalized for varicella over the 2-year period. Most cases occurred in the spring and early summer months. Most cases were in children under 5 years of age, and 29.5% were in children under 1 year of age. The estimated incidence of varicella-related hospitalization was 5.29-6.89 per 100,000 in all children between 0-15 years of age in Turkey, 21.7 to 28 per 100,000 children under 1 year of age, 9.8-13.8 per 100,000 children under 5 years of age, 3.96-6.52 per 100,000 children between 5 and 10 years of age and 0.42 to 0.71 per 100,000 children between 10 and 15 years of age. Among the 824 children, 212 (25.7%) were hospitalized because of primary varicella infection. The most common complications in children were secondary bacterial infection (23%), neurological (19.1%), and respiratory (17.5%) complications. Secondary bacterial infections (p<0.001) and neurological complications (p<0.001) were significantly more common in previously healthy children, whereas hematological complications (p<0.001) were more commonly observed in children with underlying conditions. The median length of the hospital stay was 6 days, and it was longer in children with underlying conditions (<0.001). The median cost of hospitalization per patient was $338 and was significantly higher in children with underlying conditions (p<0.001). The estimated direct annual cost (not including the loss of parental work time and school absence) of varicella-related hospitalization in children under the age of 15 years in Turkey was $856,190 to $1,407,006. According to our estimates, 882 to 1,450 children are hospitalized for varicella each year, reflecting a population-wide occurrence of 466-768 varicella cases per 100,000 children. In conclusion, this study confirms that varicella-related hospitalizations are not uncommon in children, and two thirds of these children are otherwise healthy. The annual cost of hospitalization for varicella reflects only a small part of the overall cost of this disease, as only a very few cases require hospital admission. The incidence of this disease was higher in children <1 year of age, and there are no prevention strategies for these children other than population-wide vaccination. Universal vaccination is therefore the only realistic option for the prevention of severe complications and deaths. The surveillance of varicellaassociated complications is essential for monitoring of the impact of varicella immunization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)817-825
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Pediatrics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2012


  • Turkey
  • Varicella
  • Varicella vaccine
  • Varicella-related hospitalization


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