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Open Access Research article

Varicella susceptibility and transmission dynamics in Slovenia

Maja Sočan1*, Nataša Berginc2 and Jaro Lajovic3

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for Communicable Diseases, National Institute of Public Health of Republic of Slovenia, Trubarjeva 2, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

2 Laboratory for virology, Centre for Communicable Diseases, National Institute of Public Health of Republic of Slovenia, Bohoričeva 15, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

3 Rho Sigma Research & Statistics, Topniška 45, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

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BMC Public Health 2010, 10:360  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-360

Published: 23 June 2010

Abstract

Background

A cross-sectional, age-stratified study was conducted to determine varicella-zoster seroprevalence and force of infection in Slovenia.

Methods

3689 serum samples were tested for VZV IgG antibodies with an enzyme immunoassay. Semiparametric and parametric modelling were used to estimate the force of infection.

Results

Overall, 85.6% of serum samples were seropositive. Age-specific prevalence rose rapidly in preschool children and over 90% of 8 years old tested positive for VZV. However, 2.8% of serum samples among women of childbearing age were seronegative. Semiparametric modelling yielded force of infection estimates of 0.182 (95% CI 0.158-0.206), 0.367 (95% CI 0.285-0.448) and 0.008 (95% CI 0.0-0.032) for age groups 0.5- < 6, 6-11 and ≥12 years, respectively, and 0.175 (95% CI 0.147-0.202), 0.391 (95% CI 0.303-0.480) and 0.025 (95% CI 0.003-0.046) for age groups 0.5- < 5, 5-9 and ≥10 years, respectively.

Conclusions

Regardless of the age grouping used, the highest transmission occurred in children in their first years of school.