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Rotavirus Vaccine Cutting Infection Rates Among Kids

CDC report shows drop in U.S. incidence since vaccine was introduced in 2006

THURSDAY, Oct. 22, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- Since routine vaccination of infants against rotavirus started in the United States in 2006, there's been a substantial reduction in the number of cases of rotavirus disease in children, a new government study shows.

Rotavirus is the leading cause worldwide of severe acute diarrhea in children younger than 5. Before 2006, rotavirus caused 20 to 60 deaths each year in the United States, along with 55,000 to 70,000 hospitalizations, 205,000 to 272,000 emergency department visits, and 410,000 outpatient visits among children younger than 5.

An analysis of data from a national network of sentinel laboratories showed that the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 rotavirus seasons were both shorter and began later than pre-vaccine seasons (2000 to 2006), wrote researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Specifically, onset of the rotavirus season in 2007-2008 was 11 weeks later than the median for 2000 to 2006, and the number of positive test results was 64 percent lower than in the pre-vaccine seasons.

There were 15 percent more positive rotavirus test results in the 2008-2009 season than in the 2007-2008 seasons, but the number of positive test results for both seasons were substantially lower than during the 2000 to 2006 seasons, the study found.

While cases of rotavirus disease have decreased since the introduction of rotavirus vaccination, continued surveillance is needed to better understand the impact of the rotavirus vaccine, the researchers said.

The study results are published in the Oct. 23 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about rotavirus.

SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, news release, Oct. 22, 2009
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