Population-based estimates of hospitalization rates for varicella provide data of the severe and costly end of this disease.Objective
To estimate the annual burden of hospitalization due to primary varicella in the 17 Autonomous Regions of Spain.Methods
Data were obtained from the national surveillance system for hospital data and comprises all hospital discharges for varicella reported during the 1995–2000 period.Results
The overall incidence of hospitalizations was 2.7 per 100,000 persons per year (ranging from 3.2 in Navarra to 1.5 in the Canary Islands). Forty-eight deaths were reported during the period. Each year varicella was responsible for 3017 days of hospitalization in persons ≤ 10 years of age and 3333days in persons > 10 years of age. The annual cost of these hospitalizations was 1.2 million and more than 500.000 euros for persons ≤ 10 years and > 10 years of age, respectively.Conclusion
Varicella is associated to a severe morbidity in children, adolescents and adults in Spain. The burden of varicella is likely to be potentially reduced by effective immunization programs.