Objective: The aim of this study was to assess the direct medical burden and work loss associated with uncomplicated chickenpox in Israel.
Methods: A total of 155 otherwise healthy children and adolescents with chickenpox were recruited from 10 physician offices in central Israel. Direct and indirect medical burdens were determined by caregiver interview.
Results: Mean age was 3.3+/-2.3 years. 51% of the patients were under 3 years of age. Each patient made on average 1.15 visits to a general practitioner. Most patients were taken to the Doctor's office only once during the illness while 23 patients (15%) were seen twice. Three patients were referred to the emergency room. Antihistamines (39%) and Calamine lotion (28%) were the most frequently prescribed medications, followed by acyclovir (17%) and antibiotics (6%). Following the patient's illness there were 72 cases of secondary spread of varicella to household members. The individuals who cared for the child missed a combined total of 2.5 days from work (on average per varicella episode).
Conclusions: Israeli children acquire chickenpox at a younger age than children in North America and England and consume more prescribed medications. While the work loss in the present study was comparable to previous reports, the direct medical costs inflicted by this infection in Israel are not negligible even for uncomplicated cases.