Chickenpox Is A Seasonal Disease, Google Searches Suggest

June 3rd 2016
Allison Gilchrist, Associate Editor
Allison Gilchrist, Associate Editor

A review of Google searches revealed that there may be a peak season for chickenpox

A review of Google searches revealed that there may be a peak season for chickenpox.

Study results published in theProceedings of the National Academy of Sciencesfound that more cases of the chickenpox virus are reported in the spring than any other time of year. The researchers analyzed Google search engine data from 36 countries over 11 years, and then corroborated that information with data from published clinical cases.

Based on search queries, the investigators found that the chickenpox virus seems to peak in the spring globally, but that association was much shakier in countries where the vaccine is prevalent.

Although chickenpox vaccinations rates are relatively high for children, clinicians may want to let parents know that they should be extra vigilant during the springtime for chickenpox, especially if their children haven’t received the second booster shot or haven’t been vaccinated at all.

The CDC recommends 2 doses for routine use, with the first dose administered to infants 12 to 15 months old, followed by the second dose for children 4 to 6 years old.

Failure to follow the recommended immunization schedule leaves children at risk. In fact, the New York City Health Department is currently investigating an outbreak of chickenpox that has infected 75 infants and young children since March 2016.

Of the patients confirmed to have chickenpox, 72% weren’t vaccinated and 14% hadn’t received both recommended doses of vaccine. The median age of the patients is 3 years.

Although the virus is normally associated with children, clinicians should also remember that certain older adults may have foregone the vaccination when they were adolescents or older, as the vaccine wasn’t licensed until 1995.

With respect to adult cases, officials from the Department of Corrections in Cranston, Rhode Island, reported that 5 inmates have been diagnosed with chickenpox or shingles at the state prison complex. They’re working to determine the vaccination and immune status of all patients, and those with unclear records will receive the immunization.

Patients may also be surprised to hear that receiving the chicken pox vaccination doesn’t guarantee lifetime immunity. However, cases of chickenpox that occur after receiving the vaccine are generally milder with fewer lesions and are less likely to involve fever.

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