Varicella zoster and fever rash surveillance in Lao People's Democratic Republic

Phonethipsavanh Nouanthong, Judith M. Hübschen (Main author), Somxay Billamay, Sodaly Mongkhoune, Keooudomphone Vilivong, Vilaysone Khounvisith, Regina Sinner, Marc Grandadam, Darouny Phonekeo, Antony P. Black, Claude P. Muller*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Background: In Lao PDR, the epidemiology of varicella infection is uncertain, since it is not a notifiable disease and VZV outbreaks are rarely reported as fever/rash (F/R) diseases. Methods: We estimated the seroprevalence of VZV (IgG ELISA) in different age cohorts (9 months to 46 years; N = 3139) and investigated VZV and 6 other viruses in patients during F/R outbreaks and in an ad hoc sentinel site in the context of the national reporting system (IgM ELISA, PCR). Results: At least 80% of the sampled population had evidence of VZV infection before the age of 15. The largest increase in seroprevalence occurred between the age groups 1 to 5 and 6 to 7 year-olds. A VZV outbreak (clade 2) also occurred in this age group mostly during the first year of primary school (median age 6 years, interquartile range 4.0-7.5). During a dengue outbreak, 6% had varicella. At our F/R sentinel site, 14% of children with viral etiology were laboratory diagnosed as varicella and among others, a sizeable number of measles (N = 12) and rubella cases (N = 25) was detected compared to those reported for the whole country (N = 56 and 45), highlighting nationwide a large challenge of underreporting or misdiagnosis of these notifiable diseases because of lack of diagnostic laboratory capacity. Conclusion: We recommend strengthening the clinical and laboratory diagnosis of VZV, measles and rubella, the surveillance and reporting of notifiable F/R diseases by retraining of healthcare workers and by setting up sentinel sites and enhancing laboratory capacity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number392
JournalBMC Infectious Diseases
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 May 2019


  • Fever-rash
  • Measles
  • Serostudy
  • Surveillance
  • Varicella


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