Since the introduction of the rotavirus vaccine, infant deaths have decreased significantly worldwide, especially in the United States. But the virus is still a leading cause of death from diarrhea among children in certain parts of the world.
Rotavirus is a highly contagious virus that can cause severe diarrhea and vomiting, especially in infants. Before a vaccine was available, rotavirus was responsible for
Thankfully, rates have decreased significantly since 2006, when pharmaceutical manufacturers introduced the rotavirus vaccine to more than 100 countries. While rotavirus now causes few deaths in the U.S., it’s still responsible for
Keep reading to learn more about the number of deaths by rotavirus and the effect the vaccine has had on reducing serious illness and death from the virus.
Rotavirus most commonly causes vomiting and watery diarrhea. Symptoms can last anywhere from
Dehydration in children from the rotavirus can cause the following symptoms:
- decreased urination
- dizziness upon standing
- dry mouth/throat
- lethargy or being unusually sleepy
- not making tears when crying
- severe fussiness
The introduction of the rotavirus vaccine in the U.S. dramatically reduced the number of child hospital visits due to the virus. The CDC estimates the vaccine prevents between
Despite the clear benefits, a 2018 research review found that vaccinations plateaued from 2013 to 2015, peaking at
Before the vaccine
Before the rotavirus vaccine introduction, nearly every child in the United States had a rotavirus infection by 5 years old, according to the
The CDC also notes that between
After the vaccine
In a 2018 review, researchers observed U.S. vaccination and illness rates from 2006 to 2017. They found that the vaccine reduced rotavirus-related hospitalizations by
In studies of vaccine effectiveness, which looked at whether those vaccinated against rotavirus needed hospitalization or serious care, the vaccine was about
Besides considerations for overall health, the rotavirus vaccine has also reduced healthcare costs. Experts estimate the rotavirus vaccine has reduced healthcare costs in the United States by
After successful introductions in Europe and the Americas, the World Health Organization
But the vaccine may not be as effective everywhere in the world as it is in the U.S. A 2020 review found that its effectiveness was 86% for countries with low infant death compared with 63% for countries with high infant death.
In 2016, rotavirus was still the leading cause of diarrheal death among children worldwide, contributing to almost
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
A 2018 report estimated that the rotavirus vaccine saved
Who is most at risk of rotavirus?
Children under 3 years old are most at risk of rotavirus. Severe disease is most likely in unvaccinated children
- adults who care for children, such as at a day care
- older adults
- those with weakened immune systems, such as from medical conditions, including HIV or cancer
You may not always think of a viral illness resulting in diarrhea as life threatening. But severe diarrhea can cause dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and bleeding in young children.
Because children’s bodies are smaller, they can’t tolerate the loss of fluids as well as adults may be able to. Losing electrolytes, like sodium and potassium, can also affect their heart rhythms and brain functioning. All of these effects can be life threatening without prompt treatment.
People can commonly pass on the rotavirus by hand-to-mouth contact. You can get an infection if you touch a contaminated object or surface and then touch your mouth. You can also get it by eating contaminated food.
You shed the virus when you poop. The
You can help prevent the spread of rotavirus by washing your hands thoroughly after cleaning and disposing of a child’s dirty diaper and disinfecting food preparation or eating areas and areas where stool or urine may have touched after changing diapers.
But more than good hygiene is needed. Vaccination of eligible-aged children can be the best way to prevent rotavirus.
Vaccination can also offer
Rotavirus remains a leading cause of infant hospitalization and death worldwide. But the introduction of the rotavirus vaccine has significantly reduced the number of severe cases of this infection, especially in the United States. Even so, less than
Because the vaccine isn’t available to people older than 8 months, children getting vaccinated may help protect older adults and others at risk of serious illness from infection. If you have an infant, talk with your child’s doctor about the rotavirus vaccine.