Pathophysiology: Little is known about the route and the source of transmission of the virus. VZV is certainly transmissible through the airborne route and does not require close personal contact. The skin lesions are certainly full of infectious virus particles whilst in contrast, it is almost impossible to isolate virus from the upper respiratory tract. It is possible that aerial transmission originates from symptomless oral lesions.
Disease statistics: The average annual incidence of varicella GP-consultations was 51.5 per 10,000 (95% CI 44.4-58.7) overall; 465.5 per 10,000 for 0–1 year-olds; 610.8 per 10,000 for 1–4 year-olds; 153.5 per 10,000 for 5–9 year-olds; 8,3 per 10,000 for >10 year olds. When only ICPC coded diagnoses were analyzed the incidence was 27% lower. The proportion of complications among varicella patients was 34.9%. Most frequently complications were upper respiratory tract infections.
Treatment: Several studies indicate that antiviral medications decrease the duration of symptoms and the likelihood of postherpetic neuralgia, especially when initiated within 2 days of the onset of rash. In typical cases that involve individuals who are otherwise healthy, oral acyclovir may be prescribed. An important study by Kubeyinje (1997) suggested that the use of acyclovir in healthy young adults with zoster is not clearly justified, especially in situations of limited economic resources.
Research: Epidemiological characteristics and societal burden of varicella zoster virus in the Netherlands.For varicella the highest incidence of GP-consultations was found in 1–4 year-olds, for herpes zoster in the >65 years olds. The occurrence of complications was not age-dependent but varies per complication. When estimating incidence of VZV-related diseases in primary care, based on diagnostic codes only, one should be aware of a gross underestimation of the incidence.