Vaccination Shifts Course of Rotavirus Infection Patterns

Study finds that timing of epidemics appear to depend on birth rate

FRIDAY, July 17 (HealthDay News) -- The timing and course of rotavirus epidemics is dependent on the size of the population that has never been infected, and can be shifted by vaccinating at least 80 percent of children in the population, according to a study published in the July 17 issue of Science.

Virginia E. Pitzer, Ph.D., of Pennsylvania State University in University Park, and colleagues used mathematical modeling to calculate the patterns of rotavirus transmission in the United States, taking into account regional birth rates and the predictive levels and effectiveness of rotavirus vaccination.

The birth rate in the population determines the timing of a rotavirus epidemic because the spread of the disease relies on previously uninfected children, thus the Southwest states with a higher birth rate tend to have earlier winter outbreaks of rotavirus compared to the Northeast states with lower birth rates, the investigators found. However, vaccination, introduced in 2006, may cause rotavirus outbreaks to become less frequent and affect children when they are older.

"When you can observe the immediate effects of vaccination and compare them to what the model predicted, you have a head start on stopping this preventable disease in countries where rotavirus unnecessarily kills hundreds of thousands of children," a co-author of the study said in a statement.

Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)

Physician's Briefing