An analysis of infection control of varicella-zoster virus infections in Addenbrooke's Hospital Cambridge over a 5-year period, 1987-92

Epidemiol Infect. 1996 Aug;117(1):165-71. doi: 10.1017/s0950268800001278.


This prospective study analyses infections with varicella-zoster virus (VZV) in Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge during 1987-92 and examines the spread of infection. In total, 93 patients and staff experienced VZV infection. Twenty-one patients had varicella and 49 experienced zoster. None of 101 patients and 1 of 625 staff members in contact with varicella cases acquired infection. By contrast, 2 of 227 patients, and 5 of 1039 staff in contact with zoster cases acquired varicella. One out of 28 (3.6%) VZV antibody-negative patients and staff in contact with varicella acquired infection, compared with 5 out of 29 (17.2%) VZV antibody-negative patients and staff in contact with zoster. Thus, zoster was found to be a more frequent cause of nosocomial infection than varicella. Fourteen members of staff had VZV infection during the study period. One of 99 patients and none of 389 staff members in contact with these cases developed varicella. The cost of dealing with infection control for VZV infections in our hospital is estimated to be Pounds 714 per patient case and a total of Pounds 13,204 per year.

MeSH terms

  • Chickenpox / epidemiology*
  • Chickenpox / prevention & control
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Cross Infection / epidemiology*
  • Cross Infection / prevention & control
  • England / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Herpes Zoster / epidemiology*
  • Herpes Zoster / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Infection Control / economics*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Time Factors