Rotavirus Infections and Vaccines Burden of Illness and Potential Impact of Vaccination
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Rotaviruses are the most common cause of severe gastroenteritis in children. By 5 years of age virtually every child worldwide will have experienced at least one rotavirus infection. This leads to an enormous disease burden, where every minute a child dies because of rotavirus infection and another four are hospitalized, at an annual societal cost in 2007 of $US2 billion. Most of the annual 527 000 deaths are in malnourished infants living in rural regions of low and middle income countries. In contrast, most measurable costs arise from medical expenses and lost parental wages in high income countries. Vaccines are the only public health prevention strategy likely to control rotavirus disease. They were developed to mimic the immunity following natural rotavirus infection that confers protection against severe gastroenteritis and consequently reduces the risk of primary healthcare utilization, hospitalization and death. The two currently licensed vaccines - one a single human strain rotavirus vaccine, the other a multiple strain human-bovine pentavalent reassortant rotavirus vaccine - are administered to infants in a two- or three-dose course, respectively, with the first dose given at 6-14 weeks of age. In various settings they are safe, immunogenic and efficacious against many different rotavirus genotypes. In high and middle income countries, rotavirus vaccines confer 85-100% protection against severe disease, while in low income regions of Africa and Asia, protection is less, at 46-77%. Despite this reduced efficacy in low income countries, the high burden of diarrheal disease in these regions means that proportionately more severe cases are prevented by vaccination than elsewhere. Post-licensure effectiveness studies show that rotavirus vaccines not only reduce rotavirus activity in infancy but they also decrease rates of rotavirus diarrhea in older and unimmunized children. A successful rotavirus vaccination program will rely upon sustained vaccine efficacy against diverse and evolving rotavirus strains and efficient vaccine delivery systems. The potential introduction of rotavirus vaccines into the world's poorest countries with the greatest rates of rotavirus-related mortality is expected to be very cost effective, while rotavirus vaccines should also be cost effective by international standards when incorporated into developed countries immunization schedules. Nonetheless, cost effectiveness in each country still depends largely on the local rotavirus mortality rate and the price of the vaccine in relation to the per capita gross domestic product.
Cardiovascular Medicine and Haematology not elsewhere classified