Chickenpox Rates Correlated With Regional UV Levels
Chickenpox rates are correlated with exposure to sunlight, British scientists say. According to the BBC, a research team from the University of London found that chickenpox is less common in regions where UV levels are high.
This led researchers to believe that UV rays may inactivate the virus, as they have been known to do in other cases. Dr. Phil Rice, who led the study, told the BBC that his work helps to explain why chickenpox is not as prevalent in tropical countries.
“No one had considered UV as a factor before, but when I looked at the epidemiological studies they showed a good correlation between global latitude and the presence of the virus,” Rice said.
To reach their conclusion, the team looked at data from 25 studies and plotted chickenpox incidence against a wide variety of climate factors. The presence or lack of UV rays remained consistent in determining the rate of infection.
Other scientists are not as easily convinced, however. Professor Judy Breuer of University College London told the BBC that while UV rays could play a role in the presence of chickenpox in some areas, there were likely other factors at play.
“Lots of things aside from UV could affect it,” she said. “Heat, humidity and social factors such as overcrowding. It’s quite possible that UV is having an effect, but we don’t have any firm evidence showing the extent this is happening.”