Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) is found worldwide and is very contagious. Over 90% of unimmunised people become infected, but infection occurs at different ages in different parts of the world; over 80% of people have been infected by the age of 10 years in the US, the UK, and Japan, and by the age of 20 to 30 years in India, Southeast Asia, and the Caribbean. The virus is more prevalent in temperate climates, and outbreaks are more common in late winter and spring. Estimated hospital admission rates for varicella in developed countries range from 2 to 6 per 100,000 people and appear to be higher in African-American people and non-white Hispanic people.
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