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Rotavirus Vaccine: A Way to Prevent Rotavirus Gastroenteritis

Rotavirus is found to be the leading cause of diarrhea in infants and young children. Statistically speaking more than 500,000 annual deaths in kids less than 5 years of age are attributed to Rotavirus gastroenteritis.  It is also referred to as a democratic virus as it can equally cause acute gastroenteritis in kids from the developed as well as developing countries.

Symptoms of Rotavirus

Rotavirus has multiple strains and it causes diarrhea leading to a loss of substantial amount of fluid from the body. The fluid losses in the settings of Rotavirus are enough to cause severe dehydration that if not managed properly in the hospital with intravenous fluid can even lead to death of the child. Treatment of Rotavirus gastroenteritis is supportive that is mainly focused on preventing or treating severe dehydration and all the lethal complications occurring secondary to it.

Maintaining Adequate Hydration Is the Key Treatment

In case of Rotavirus gastroenteritis, ideally the kids shouldn’t get any medications to control either diarrhea or vomiting. The most important factor to keep in mind while treating Rotavirus gastroenteritis is to maintain the kid adequately hydrated. For that purpose we may use oral rehydration solution (ORS) initially, if the child is not severely dehydrated. However In case of severe dehydration, the child must be admitted in hospital and provided with intravenous fluids.

Rotavirus Vaccines to Prevent Rotavirus GE

The only way to prevent Rotavirus infection is by getting a kid vaccinated. In this regard different vaccines have been used over the period of time.

Rota Shield: It was the first vaccine against Rotavirus, introduced back in 1989. It was however withdrawn from the market due to its association with a serious medical disorder of the gut called Intussusception.

RotaTeq: This is the second type of Rotavirus vaccine, approved by Food and Drug administration authority in 2006. It requires three different doses of RotaTeq vaccine to adequately vaccinate a child against Rotavirus. These three doses are conventionally administered at the age of 2, 4 and 6 months of age.

Rotarix: Rotarix was approved by FDA in 2008. It only requires administration of two doses, at the age of 2 and 4 months respectively.

Impact of Rotavirus Vaccine in Decreasing the Risk of Rotavirus GE:

Following, introduction of Rotavirus vaccine there has been a significant decrease in the hospitalization rates of the kids secondary to diarrhea. In a report published by center of disease control and prevention (CDC) in 2008, a 75% decrease in Rotavirus associated diarrhea was observed following introduction of Rotavirus vaccine.

To conclude, introduction of Rotavirus vaccine has not only substantially reduced the hospitalization rates and emergency department visits amongst the kids under 5 years of age, but has also resulted in a cost savings of millions.




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