Herpes zoster causing varicella (chickenpox) in hospital employees: cost of a casual attitude

Am J Infect Control. 1984 Feb;12(1):2-5. doi: 10.1016/0196-6553(84)90064-6.


Varicella is a benign exanthematous disease of childhood, with adult infection usually occurring in the immunocompromised patient. Hospital employees may be exposed to the varicella virus through contact with patients having either varicella or herpes zoster. Two nurses developed varicella 11 and 15 days after contact with a patient with disseminated herpes zoster. Twenty-five susceptible employees were excluded from work. The cost to the hospital for this paid leave was $10,941. Additional nurses were hired to staff the 189 uncovered supplementary nursing shifts; the accrued cost was $8,093. Ninety patients were exposed. There were no secondary cases in either employees or patients. Nosocomial varicella in hospital employees can be both costly to the hospital and disruptive of patient care. Measures to prevent such an occurrence are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Chickenpox / economics*
  • Chickenpox / epidemiology
  • Chickenpox / transmission
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Cross Infection / economics*
  • Cross Infection / epidemiology
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Female
  • Herpes Zoster
  • Humans
  • Nursing Care
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital*
  • Occupational Diseases / economics*
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology