Rotaviruses have spread worldwide. Most children (>90%) have experienced a rotavirus infection by the time they turn four. In the course of the early years antibodies are increasingly created as a result of contact with rotaviruses. Earlier diseases can protect from becoming ill later if there is a reinfection with the same or different rotavirus types. As adults the diseases mainly occur as traveler’s diarrhea. However, only 20% of traveler’s diarrhoea is due to rotaviruses. The most serious cases of the disease occur in the age groups between 6 months and 2 years. In moderate climates rotavirus infections are primarily observed during the winter months due to the fact that the pathogens have an easier time spreading in the warm and dry climate of heated living quarters. Except for children, severe afflictions caused by rotavirus infections are only recorded for older or immune-suppressed patients. Rotaviruses can frequently be found in hospitals, where smears taken show them on the hands of the majority of hospital employees. (Gleizes O, Desselberber U, Tatochenka V et al.: Nosocomial rotavirus infection in European countries. Pediatr. Infect Dis J 2006, 255:12-19).
In industrial countries the course of the disease is very rarely fatal or associated with grave complications.
Presently rota vaccinations are not officially recommended. This will probably change as soon as the vaccine is available. It can thus be expected that the vaccination will soon be included in immunization regimens, even though there is no medical necessity to do so here.
Thus STIKO-member C. Huelssle was the director of the "REVEAL"-trial which was financed by the manufacturer of RotaTeq, Sanofi Pasteur MSD, which concluded that the vaccination would result in reducing the number of sick days taken by 2-6 days, thus reducing the time parents would have to stay away from work (www.dgk.de/web/dgk_file/Monatzeitschrift_Kinderheilkunde_Wiese-Posselt_2007.pdf). Ms Huelssle is also a member of the Expert Committee for Rotavirus Vaccines at Sanofi Pasteur.
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