Introduction Varicella zoster virus (VZV) causes varicella (chicken pox) and herpes zoster (shingles). Worldwide, these diseases are associated with significant morbidity. Most of the epidemiological data on VZV come from high income countries. There are few data on VZV in Africa, where tropical climates and high HIV/AIDS prevalence rates are expected to impact the epidemiology of VZV. Safe and effective vaccinations for both varicella and herpes zoster exist, but are not routinely used in Africa. There are very few data available on VZV disease burden in Africa to guide the introduction of these vaccines on the continent. Our aim is to conduct a systematic review of the VZV-associated morbidity and mortality in Africa, which will provide critical information that could be used to develop vaccination policies against these diseases in Africa.
Methods and analysis Electronic databases will be searched and all studies published after 1974 that meet predefined criteria will be assessed. The primary outcomes for the study are VZV incidence/prevalence, hospitalisation rates and total death rates. The secondary outcome for this study is the proportion of VZV hospitalisations and/or deaths associated with HIV/AIDS. Two reviewers will screen the titles and abstracts, and then independently review the full texts, to determine if studies are eligible for inclusion. A risk of bias and quality assessment tool will be used to score all included studies. Following standardised data extraction, a trend analysis using R-programming software will be conducted to investigate the trend of VZV. Depending on the characteristics of included studies, subgroup analyses will be performed. This review will be reported according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines.
Ethics and dissemination As this is a protocol for a systematic review, which will use already published data, no ethics approval is required. Findings will be disseminated in peer-reviewed journals.
Trial registration number CRD42015026144
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