Seroprevalence of varicella zoster virus infections in Colombo district, Sri Lanka

Indian J Med Sci. 2007 Mar;61(3):128-34.


Background: Although Varicella Zoster virus (VZV) infections occur worldwide, the epidemiology is remarkably different in tropical and temperate climates. VZV infections result in significant morbidity and mortality among adults in Sri Lanka.

Aims: For future VZV vaccination strategies, we set to determine the age-specific seroprevalence rate of VZV infections in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Materials and methods: The study was carried out from 1999 to 2000. Multi-stage cluster sampling technique was used to collect 913 blood samples, which were tested for the presence of VZV-specific IgG antibodies.

Results: VZV seroprevalence rates were markedly lower in all age groups when compared to temperate climates. The seroprevalence rates increased with age in both the rural and urban populations. Of those aged 60 years, only 50% in the rural population and 78.9% in the urban population were immune to VZV. Seroprevalence rates of VZV infections were significantly different between the urban and rural populations (P< 0.001), with VZV-specific IgG antibodies detected in 47.5% in the urban population and 27.9% in the rural population. It was found that 56.2% (131) of females of childbearing age were nonimmune to VZV.

Conclusions: These findings highlight the need for a VZV vaccination program, which is likely to have a huge impact on the incidence of chickenpox and its associated morbidity and mortality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chickenpox / epidemiology*
  • Chickenpox / prevention & control
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Herpesvirus 3, Human / pathogenicity*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Rural Population
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies
  • Sri Lanka / epidemiology
  • Tropical Climate
  • Urban Population
  • Vaccination