Background: In the Netherlands, incidence of physician's consultations and hospitalizations for varicella is low compared to other countries. Better knowledge about the severity of varicella among Dutch hospitalized patients is needed. Therefore, a medical record research was conducted among hospitalized patients with diagnosis varicella.
Methods: Hospital admissions due to varicella in 2003-2006 were obtained from the National Medical Register. Retrospectively, additional data were retrieved from the medical record of patients hospitalized with varicella in 23 Dutch hospitals using a standardized form. Analyses were performed using descriptive statistics.
Results: The study population (N = 296) was representative for all varicella admissions in the Netherlands (N = 1,658) regarding age, sex, duration of admission and type of diagnosis. Complications were recorded in 76% of the patients (37% had at least one relatively severe complication). Bacterial super infections of skin lesions (28%), (imminent) dehydration (19%), febrile convulsions (7%), pneumonia (7%) and gastroenteritis (7%) were most frequently reported. No varicella-related death occurred within the study population and 3% of the patients had serious rest symptoms.
Conclusions: It is not likely that the severity of varicella among hospitalized patients in the Netherlands differs from other countries. A considerable part of the varicella complications among hospitalized patients was rather moderate and can be treated effectively, although in a third of the hospitalized cases with complications, severe complications occurred. These data are relevant in the decision-making process regarding whether or not to introduce routine varicella vaccination in the Netherlands.