Reduction in pediatric hospitalizations for varicella-related invasive group A streptococcal infections in the varicella vaccine era

J Pediatr. 2004 Jan;144(1):68-74. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2003.10.025.


Objectives: To assess changes in hospitalization rates for invasive group A streptococcal (IGAS) and varicella-associated IGAS (VA-IGAS) infections at a pediatric hospital over a period of 9 years, to characterize clinical features of patients with IGAS infections, and to assess frequency of macrolide-resistant IGAS isolates. Study design Medical records of all hospitalized patients with group A streptococcus isolated from a normally sterile site from 1993 to 2001 were reviewed. Data collected included demographics, clinical course, microbiologic features, outcome, and presence of streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (STSS) or necrotizing fasciitis (NF). Annual hospitalization rates for IGAS were determined.

Results: There were 144 patients with IGAS infections, including 11 (8%) with STSS or NF. Overall mortality rate was 2% (3/144) but 18% (2/11) among patients with STSS or NF. Preexisting varicella was present in 16% (23/144); 4 of 23 VA-IGAS cases had STSS or NF. Although there was no change in annual hospitalization rates for IGAS infections during the study period, the percentage of VA-IGAS hospitalizations decreased from 27% in the prevaccine era (1993 to 1995), to 16% during vaccine implementation (1996 to 1998) and 2% during widespread vaccine use (1999 to 2001) (linear-by-linear association, P=.001). Macrolide resistance was low in 1993 to 1995 (5%, 1/19) and 1996 to 1998 (0%, 0/42) among tested IGAS isolates and increased significantly in 1999 to 2001 (13%, 5/38) (Fisher exact, P=.035).

Conclusions: A decline in pediatric varicella-related IGAS hospitalizations was temporally associated with utilization of varicella vaccine. These data reinforce the importance of universal varicella vaccination for children. Increasing macrolide resistance among IGAS isolates indicates a need for continued surveillance.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Chickenpox Vaccine / administration & dosage*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Streptococcal Infections / epidemiology*
  • Streptococcal Infections / virology
  • Streptococcus pyogenes*
  • Vaccination / statistics & numerical data


  • Chickenpox Vaccine