Seroprevalence of varicella-zoster virus in five US-bound refugee populations

J Immigr Minor Health. 2015 Feb;17(1):310-3. doi: 10.1007/s10903-013-9946-x.


Little is known about varicella-zoster virus (VZV) susceptibility in US-bound refugee populations, although published data suggest that VZV seroprevalence in these refugee populations may be lower than US populations. We describe VZV seroprevalence in five US-bound refugee groups: (1) Bhutanese in Nepal, (2) Burmese on the Thailand-Burma (Myanmar) border, (3) Burmese in Malaysia, (4) Iraqi in Jordan, and (5) Somali in Kenya. Sera were tested for presence of VZV IgG antibodies among adults aged 18-45 years. Overall VZV seroprevalence was 97% across all refugee groups. VZV seroprevalence was also high across all age groups, with seroprevalence ranging from 92-100% for 18-26 year-olds depending on refugee group and 93-100% for 27-45 year-olds. VZV seroprevalence was unexpectedly high in these five US-bound refugee groups, though may not reflect seroprevalence in other refugee groups. Additional studies are needed to better understand VZV seroprevalence in refugee populations over time and by region.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bhutan / ethnology
  • Chickenpox / epidemiology
  • Chickenpox / ethnology*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Herpesvirus 3, Human / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Iraq / ethnology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myanmar / ethnology
  • Nepal / ethnology
  • Refugees
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies
  • Somalia / ethnology