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Findings from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that rotavirus disease was dramatically reduced in the United States from November 2007 through May 2008 compared to previous years. The findings were published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on 26 June.
RotaTeq, Merck & Co Inc’s and Sanofi Pasteur MSD’s pentavalent oral rotavirus vaccine was introduced in February 2006 in the US and was the only rotavirus vaccine used during this period.
“Although these data are preliminary, as a paediatrician, I am excited about the marked reduction in rotavirus disease we saw this season which coincided with increasing uptake of RotaTeq,” comments Mary Allen Staat MD MPH, professor of paediatrics at the University of Cincinnati, and a member of the Infectious Disease Division at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, one of the primary CDC rotavirus surveillance sites.
In one analysis in the CDC report the percentage of tests that were positive for rotavirus in the 2007-2008 rotavirus season was lower than in the previous 15 years. Only 18% of samples tested were positive during the peak of rotavirus season in April 2008, compared with a median of 41% (range 31-46%) at the peak of previous (from July 1991 until June 2006).
In the second analysis, the data showed a marked reduction in hospitalisations and accident and emergency (A&E) department and clinic visits due to rotavirus gastroenteritis during 2008 compared with 2006 and 2007. Among those children who presented to hospitals, A&E departments or outpatient clinics in the three counties in the US included in the analysis with acute gastroenteritis, 207 patients had rotavirus gastroenteritis in 2006; 259 in 2007; and only 18 in 2008.
The overall proportion of faecal samples from these children that tested positive for rotavirus was approximately 51% in 2006; 54% in 2007; and only 6% in 2008.
“These data are very promising. They suggest that rotavirus vaccination could also be beneficial for infants in Europe,” says paediatrician and vaccine expert Prof Markus Rose from Frankfurt University Childrensâ€™ Hospital, Germany.
“This has also been recognised by two major European paediatric societies which have urged that parents and children have full access to rotavirus vaccination, so we can start reducing the significant health and socio-economic burden of rotavirus disease.”