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1.  Rotavirus Antigenemia in Children Is Associated with Viremia 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(4):e121.
Antigenemia is commonly detected in rotavirus-infected children. Although rotavirus RNA has been detected in serum, definitive proof of rotavirus viremia has not been shown. We aimed to analyze a defined patient population to determine if infectious virus could be detected in sera from children with rotavirus antigenemia.
Methods and Findings
Serum samples obtained upon hospitalization from children with gastroenteritis (57 stool rotavirus-positive and 41 rotavirus-negative), children with diagnosed bronchiolitis of known (n = 58) or unknown (n = 17) viral etiology, children with noninfectious, nonchronic conditions (n = 17), and healthy adults (n = 28) were tested for rotavirus antigen by enzyme immunoassay (EIA). Results of serum antigen testing were assessed for association with clinical and immunological attributes of the children. Rotavirus antigenemia was detected in 90% (51/57) of children with rotavirus-positive stools, in 89% (8/9) of children without diarrhea but with rotavirus-positive stools, in 12% (2/17) of children with bronchiolitis of unknown etiology without gastroenteritis, and in 12% (5/41) of children with gastroenteritis but with rotavirus-negative stools. Antigenemia was not detected in sera from children with noninfectious nonchronic conditions, children with bronchiolitis of known etiology and no gastroenteritis, or healthy adults. Neither age nor timing of serum collection within eight days after onset of gastroenteritis significantly affected levels of antigenemia, and there was no correlation between antigenemia and viral genotype. However, there was a negative correlation between serum rotavirus antigen and acute rotavirus-specific serum IgA (r = −0.44, p = 0.025) and IgG (r = −0.40, p = 0.01) titers. We examined 11 antigen-positive and nine antigen-negative sera for infectious virus after three blind serial passages in HT-29 cells using immunofluorescence staining for rotavirus structural and nonstructural proteins. Infectious virus was detected in 11/11 (100%) sera from serum antigen-positive children and in two out of nine (22%) sera samples from antigen-negative children (p = 0.002).
Most children infected with rotavirus are viremic. The presence of viremia is directly related to the detection of antigenemia and is independent of the presence of diarrhea. Antigenemia load is inversely related to the titer of antirotavirus antibody in the serum. The finding of infectious rotavirus in the blood suggests extraintestinal involvement in rotavirus pathogenesis; however, the impact of rotavirus viremia on clinical manifestations of infection is unknown.
A study of 57 children with rotavirus-positive stools found that most were viremic, and that the presence of viremia was directly related to antigenemia and independent of the presence of diarrhea.
Editors' Summary
Rotavirus is a type of virus that is the commonest cause of severe diarrhea among children worldwide. It is passed from one person to another when virus present in the stool of an infected person is swallowed by another individual. The infection causes vomiting, watery diarrhea, and fever; many children need to be hospitalized as a result and globally more than 600,000 children are thought to die as a result of rotavirus infections per year. Evidence from single case descriptions of infected children have suggested that rotavirus might also cause symptoms outside of the gut—for example, in the lungs or brain. Previous studies have found fragments of rotavirus, for example RNA or parts of virus protein, in tissues outside of the gut such as liver, kidney, blood, and heart. However, simply finding fragments such as RNA or protein does not necessarily mean that rotavirus infects these tissues.
Why Was This Study Done?
These researchers wanted to find out whether rotavirus was present in the blood of infected children. If evidence of rotavirus in the blood was found, this might help explain why some children infected with rotavirus have symptoms affecting organs other than the gut.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
In this study, five groups of patients were recruited and tests were done on each to find out whether infectious rotavirus was present in their bloodstream, and also whether the researchers could detect rotavirus components in blood using antibodies against particular parts of the rotavirus particle. The five groups of patients that were compared included children hospitalized with gastroenteritis; children hospitalized with noninfectious conditions; healthy adult laboratory workers; children with lung infections from known viruses; and finally children with lung infections of unknown cause. The researchers found that among the children with gastroenteritis who had rotavirus in their stool, 90% also had evidence of rotavirus particles in their bloodstream. By contrast, control individuals (either children who were hospitalized with noninfectious conditions or healthy adults) did not have rotavirus particles in blood. A small proportion of children with gastroenteritis but no rotavirus in their stool did have rotavirus particles in blood. Interestingly, a small proportion of the children who had lung infections (but in whom no known virus had been identified as the cause) showed evidence of rotavirus in their bloodstreams. Finally, in a group of 11 children with evidence of rotavirus particles in their bloodstreams, all were found to also have infectious virus present in the blood.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These results show that rotavirus is able to spread beyond the gut and into the bloodstream. The finding that rotavirus can spread into the bloodstream may explain some earlier suggestions that rotavirus is responsible for symptoms outside of the gut. However, it is not yet clear how commonly children with rotavirus have other symptoms resulting from the virus spreading into their bloodstream.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Read the related PLoS Medicine Perspective article by David Candy
Information from the World Health Organization Initiative for Vaccine Research on rotavirus disease burden; see also the Rotavirus Vaccine Program, a partnership that aims to develop rotavirus vaccines appropriate for use in developing countries
Information from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about rotavirus
Health Encyclopedia entry from the UK's NHS Direct on Rotavirus
PMCID: PMC1852122  PMID: 17439294
2.  Removing the Age Restrictions for Rotavirus Vaccination: A Benefit-Risk Modeling Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(10):e1001330.
A modeling analysis conducted by Manish Patel and colleagues predicts the possible number of rotavirus deaths prevented, and number of intussusception deaths caused, by use of an unrestricted rotavirus schedule in low- and middle-income countries.
To minimize potential risk of intussusception, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended in 2009 that rotavirus immunization should be initiated by age 15 weeks and completed before 32 weeks. These restrictions could adversely impact vaccination coverage and thereby its health impact, particularly in developing countries where delays in vaccination often occur.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a modeling study to estimate the number of rotavirus deaths prevented and the number of intussusception deaths caused by vaccination when administered on the restricted schedule versus an unrestricted schedule whereby rotavirus vaccine would be administered with DTP vaccine up to age 3 years. Countries were grouped on the basis of child mortality rates, using WHO data. Inputs were estimates of WHO rotavirus mortality by week of age from a recent study, intussusception mortality based on a literature review, predicted vaccination rates by week of age from USAID Demographic and Health Surveys, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS), and WHO-UNICEF 2010 country-specific coverage estimates, and published estimates of vaccine efficacy and vaccine-associated intussusception risk. On the basis of the error estimates and distributions for model inputs, we conducted 2,000 simulations to obtain median estimates of deaths averted and caused as well as the uncertainty ranges, defined as the 5th–95th percentile, to provide an indication of the uncertainty in the estimates.
We estimated that in low and low-middle income countries a restricted schedule would prevent 155,800 rotavirus deaths (5th–95th centiles, 83,300–217,700) while causing potentially 253 intussusception deaths (76–689). In contrast, vaccination without age restrictions would prevent 203,000 rotavirus deaths (102,000–281,500) while potentially causing 547 intussusception deaths (237–1,160). Thus, removing the age restrictions would avert an additional 47,200 rotavirus deaths (18,700–63,700) and cause an additional 294 (161–471) intussusception deaths, for an incremental benefit-risk ratio of 154 deaths averted for every death caused by vaccine. These extra deaths prevented under an unrestricted schedule reflect vaccination of an additional 21%–25% children, beyond the 63%–73% of the children who would be vaccinated under the restricted schedule. Importantly, these estimates err on the side of safety in that they assume high vaccine-associated risk of intussusception and do not account for potential herd immunity or non-fatal outcomes.
Our analysis suggests that in low- and middle-income countries the additional lives saved by removing age restrictions for rotavirus vaccination would far outnumber the potential excess vaccine-associated intussusception deaths.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Rotavirus causes severe diarrhea and vomiting. It is responsible for a large number of hospitalizations among young children in developed countries (an estimated 60,000 hospitalizations per year in the US in 2005, for example). In poor countries, rotavirus is a major cause of death in children under five. In 1998, the first rotavirus vaccine, called RotaShield, was approved in the US by the Food and Drug Administration. Shortly after the vaccine became widely used, doctors noticed a small increase in a problem called intussusception among the vaccinated infants. Intussusception is a rare type of bowel obstruction that occurs when the bowel telescopes in on itself. Prompt treatment of intussusception normally leads to full recovery, but some children with the condition need surgery, and when the disease is left untreated it can be fatal. Because intussusception is a serious condition and because very few children die from rotavirus infection in the United States, the US authorities stopped recommending vaccination with RotaShield in 1999. The manufacturer withdrew the vaccine from the market shortly thereafter.
Since then, two new vaccines (named Rotarix and RotaTeq) have been developed. Before they were approved in the US and elsewhere, they were extensively tested for any adverse side effects, especially intussusception. No increase in the risk for intussusception was found in these studies, and both are now approved and recommended for vaccination of infants around the world.
Why Was This Study Done?
Since 2006, hundreds of thousands of infants have been vaccinated with Rotarix or RotaTeq, with safety being closely monitored. Some countries have reported a small increase in intussusception (one to four additional cases per 100,000 vaccinated infants, compared with one per 2,000 of cases that occur in unvaccinated children). This increase is much lower than the one seen previously with RotaShield. In response to these findings, authorities in the US and other developed countries as well as the World Health Organization declared that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks of the small number of additional intussusception cases in both developed and poor countries. However, because older infants have a higher risk of naturally occurring intussusception, they decided that the course of vaccination (three oral doses for Rotarix and two for RotaTeq) should be initiated before 15 weeks of age and completed before the age of 32 weeks. This is usually not a problem in countries with easy access to health facilities. However, in many poor countries where delays in infant vaccination are common, giving the vaccine only to very young children means that many others who could benefit from its protection will be excluded. In this study, the researchers examined the risks and benefits of rotavirus vaccination in poor countries where most of the rotavirus deaths occur. Specifically, they looked at the benefits and risks if the age restrictions were removed, with a particular emphasis on allowing infants to initiate rotavirus immunization even if they arrive after 15 weeks of age.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used the most recent estimates for how well the vaccines protect children in Africa and Asia from becoming infected with rotavirus, how many deaths from rotavirus infection can be avoided by vaccination, how many additional cases of intussusception will likely occur in vaccinated children, and what proportion of children would be excluded from rotavirus vaccination because they are too old when they come to a health facility for their infant vaccination. They then estimated the number of rotavirus deaths prevented and the number of intussusception deaths caused by vaccination in two scenarios. The first one (the restricted scenario) corresponds to previous guidelines from WHO and others, in which rotavirus vaccination needs to be initiated before 15 weeks and the full series completed before 32 weeks. The second one (called the unrestricted scenario) allows rotavirus vaccination of children alongside current routinely administered vaccines up to three years of age, recognizing that most children receive their vaccination by 1 year of life.
The researchers estimated that removing the age restriction would prevent an additional 154 rotavirus deaths for each intussusception death caused by the vaccine. Under the unrestricted scenario, roughly a third more children would get vaccinated, which would prevent an additional approximately 47,000 death from rotavirus while causing approximately 300 additional intussusception deaths.
They also calculated some best- and worst-case scenarios. The worst-case scenario assumed a much higher risk of intussusception for children receiving their first dose after 15 weeks of life than what has been seen anywhere, and also that an additional 20% of children with intussusception would die from it than what was already assumed in their routine scenario (again, a higher number than seen in reality). In addition, it assumes a lower protection from rotavirus death for the vaccine than has been observed in children vaccinated so far. In this pessimistic case, the number of rotavirus deaths prevented was 24 for each intussusception death caused by the vaccine.
What Do These Findings Mean?
If one accepts that deaths caused by a vaccine are not fundamentally different from deaths caused by a failure to vaccinate, then these results show that the benefits of lifting the age restriction for rotavirus vaccine clearly outweigh the risks, at least when only examining mortality outcomes. The calculations are valid only for low-income countries in Africa and Asia where both vaccination delays and deaths from rotavirus are common. The risk-benefit ratio will be different elsewhere. There are also additional risks and benefits that are not included in the study's estimates. For example, early vaccination might be seen as less of an urgent priority when this vaccine can be had at a later date, leaving very young children more vulnerable. On the other hand, when many children in the community are vaccinated, even the unvaccinated children are less likely to get infected (what is known as “herd immunity”), something that has not been taken into account in the benefits here. The results of this study (and its limitations) were reviewed in April 2012 by WHO's Strategic Advisory Group of Experts. The group then recommended that, while early vaccination is still strongly encouraged, the age restriction on rotavirus vaccination should be removed in countries where delays in vaccination and rotavirus mortality are common so that more vulnerable children can be vaccinated and deaths from rotavirus averted.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The World Health Organization provides information on rotavirus
Wikipedia has information on rotavirus vaccine and intussusception (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rotavirus vaccination page includes a link to frequently asked questions
PATH Rotavirus Vaccine Access and Delivery has timely, useful updates on status of rotavirus vaccines globally
PMCID: PMC3479108  PMID: 23109915
3.  Incidence and Clinical Characteristics of Group A Rotavirus Infections among Children Admitted to Hospital in Kilifi, Kenya  
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(7):e153.
Rotavirus, predominantly of group A, is a major cause of severe diarrhoea worldwide, with the greatest burden falling on young children living in less-developed countries. Vaccines directed against this virus have shown promise in recent trials, and are undergoing effectiveness evaluation in sub-Saharan Africa. In this region limited childhood data are available on the incidence and clinical characteristics of severe group A rotavirus disease. Advocacy for vaccine intervention and interpretation of effectiveness following implementation will benefit from accurate base-line estimates of the incidence and severity of rotavirus paediatric admissions in relevant populations. The study objective was to accurately define the incidence and severity of group A rotavirus disease in a resource-poor setting necessary to make informed decisions on the need for vaccine prevention.
Methods and Findings
Between 2002 and 2004 we conducted prospective surveillance for group A rotavirus infection at Kilifi District Hospital in coastal Kenya. Children < 13 y of age were eligible as “cases” if admitted with diarrhoea, and “controls” if admitted without diarrhoea. We calculated the incidence of hospital admission with group A rotavirus using data from a demographic surveillance study of 220,000 people in Kilifi District. Of 15,347 childhood admissions 3,296 (22%) had diarrhoea, 2,039 were tested for group A rotavirus antigen and, of these, 588 (29%) were positive. 372 (63%) rotavirus-positive cases were infants. Of 620 controls 19 (3.1%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.9–4.7) were rotavirus positive. The annual incidence (per 100,000 children) of rotavirus-positive admissions was 1,431 (95% CI 1,275–1,600) in infants and 478 (437–521) in under-5-y-olds, and highest proximal to the hospital. Compared to children with rotavirus-negative diarrhoea, rotavirus-positive cases were less likely to have coexisting illnesses and more likely to have acidosis (46% versus 17%) and severe electrolyte imbalance except hyponatraemia. In-hospital case fatality was 2% among rotavirus-positive and 9% among rotavirus-negative children.
In Kilifi > 2% of children are admitted to hospital with group A rotavirus diarrhoea in the first 5 y of life. This translates into over 28,000 vaccine-preventable hospitalisations per year across Kenya, and is likely to be a considerable underestimate. Group A rotavirus diarrhoea is associated with acute life-threatening metabolic derangement in otherwise healthy children. Although mortality is low in this clinical research setting this may not be generally true in African hospitals lacking rapid and appropriate management.
Combining prospective hospital-based surveillance with demographic data in Kilifi, Kenya, James Nokes and colleagues assess the burden of rotavirus diarrhea in young children.
Editors' Summary
Rotavirus is a leading global cause of diarrhea in babies and young children. Indeed, most children become infected at least once with this virus before their fifth birthday. Rotavirus is usually spread by children or their caregivers failing to wash their hands properly after going to the toilet and then contaminating food or drink. The symptoms of rotavirus infection—diarrhea, vomiting, and fever—are usually mild, but if the diarrhea is severe it can quickly lead to dehydration. Mild to moderate dehydration can be treated at home by providing the patient with plenty of fluids or with a special rehydration drink that replaces lost water and salts. However, for infants or toddlers who become severely dehydrated, rehydration with intravenous fluids (fluids injected directly into a vein) in hospital may be essential. Unfortunately, in developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere, this treatment is not widely available and every year more than half a million young children die from rotavirus infections.
Why Was This Study Done?
Two rotavirus vaccines that could reduce this burden of disease are currently undergoing clinical trials to determine their effectiveness in sub-Saharan Africa. However, very little is known about the incidence of severe rotavirus infections among children living in this region (that is, how many children develop severe disease every year) or about the clinical characteristics of the disease here. Public-health officials need this baseline information before they can make informed decisions about the mass introduction of rotavirus vaccination and to help them judge whether the intervention has been successful if it is introduced. In this study, the researchers examine the incidence and clinical characteristics of rotavirus infections (specifically, group A rotavirus [GARV] infections; there are several different rotaviruses but GARV causes most human infections) among children admitted to the district hospital in Kilifi, Kenya.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
During the 3-year study, more than 15,000 children under the age of 13 years were admitted to Kilifi District Hospital, a little under a quarter of whom had severe diarrhea. Nearly a third of the patients admitted with diarrhea who were tested had a GARV-specific protein in their stools (faeces); by contrast, only three in 100 children admitted without diarrhea showed any evidence of GARV infection. Two-thirds of the GARV-positive children were infants (under 1 year old). Using these figures and health surveillance data (records of births, deaths, and causes of death) collected in the area around the hospital, the researchers calculated that the annual incidence (per 100,000 children) of GARV-positive hospital admissions in the region was 1,431 for infants and 478 for children under age 5 years. Children with GARV-positive diarrhea were less likely to have other illnesses (for example, malnutrition) than those admitted with GARV-negative diarrhea, the researchers report, but were more likely to have life-threatening complications such as severe dehydration and salt imbalances in their blood. However, despite being more ill on admission, only 1 in 50 children with GARV-positive diarrhea died, compared to nearly 1 in 10 of the children with GARV-negative diarrhea; the GARV-positive children also left hospital quicker than those who were GARV-negative.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that severe GARV-positive diarrhea is a major cause of hospital admission among otherwise healthy young children in the Kilifi region of Kenya. By the time they are 5 years old, the researchers estimate that 1 in 50 of the children living in this region will have been admitted to hospital with severe GARV-positive diarrhea. Because rotavirus vaccines prevent virtually all severe rotavirus-associated disease (at least in developed countries where their effectiveness has been extensively tested), the researchers estimate that vaccination might prevent more than 28,000 hospitalizations annually across Kenya; however, this prediction assumes that it is valid to extrapolate from the data obtained from this one district hospital to the entire country.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information about rotavirus infections, surveillance, and vaccination (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Direct health encyclopedia provides information on rotavirus infections
MedlinePlus also provides links to information on rotavirus (in English and Spanish)
The African Rotavirus Surveillance Network is working to improve knowledge about rotavirus infections in Africa
The Rotavirus Vaccine Program aims to reduce child illness and death from diarrhea by increasing the availability of rotavirus vaccines in developing countries (in English and Spanish)
PATH, a nonprofit international organization that aims to create sustainable, culturally relevant solutions to global health problems, also provides detailed information on rotavirus surveillance and disease burden
PMCID: PMC2488191  PMID: 18651787
4.  Role of coproantibody in clinical protection of children during reinfection with rotavirus. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1992;30(7):1678-1684.
Rotavirus is the major cause of severe, dehydrating infantile gastroenteritis. Infection is limited to the gut, but the relative roles of serum and secretory copro-immunoglobulin A (IgA) in protection are unclear. Specific copro-IgA is predictive of duodenal antirotaviral IgA and correlates with virus-neutralizing coproantibody. Copro-IgA conversion is a more sensitive marker of rotavirus reinfection than seroconversion. We measured rotavirus reinfections by copro-IgA conversion prospectively in 35 children recruited at a time of severe rotavirus illness. The children were followed up longitudinally for 14 to 31 months to determine whether high coproantibody levels correlated with clinical protection against rotavirus disease. Ninety-four percent of the children experienced reinfection, and 38% developed persistent elevations in specific copro-IgA termed plateaus. Plateau children had a higher mean annual rate of rotavirus infection and a lower ratio of symptomatic to total number of rotavirus reinfections than did nonplateau children. The annual rates of rotavirus infection and disease were significantly higher outside the plateau than inside it in children experiencing antirotavirus copro-IgA plateaus. Frequent rotavirus infection of children appears to stimulate production of a specific copro-IgA plateau which correlates with protection against an excess of infection and symptomatic disease.
PMCID: PMC265363  PMID: 1321167
5.  Decline in Diarrhea Mortality and Admissions after Routine Childhood Rotavirus Immunization in Brazil: A Time-Series Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(4):e1001024.
A time series analysis by Manish Patel and colleagues shows that the introduction of rotavirus vaccination in Brazil is associated with reduced diarrhea-related deaths and hospital admissions in children under 5 years of age.
In 2006, Brazil began routine immunization of infants <15 wk of age with a single-strain rotavirus vaccine. We evaluated whether the rotavirus vaccination program was associated with declines in childhood diarrhea deaths and hospital admissions by monitoring disease trends before and after vaccine introduction in all five regions of Brazil with varying disease burden and distinct socioeconomic and health indicators.
Methods and Findings
National data were analyzed with an interrupted time-series analysis that used diarrhea-related mortality or hospitalization rates as the main outcomes. Monthly mortality and admission rates estimated for the years after rotavirus vaccination (2007–2009) were compared with expected rates calculated from pre-vaccine years (2002–2005), adjusting for secular and seasonal trends. During the three years following rotavirus vaccination in Brazil, rates for diarrhea-related mortality and admissions among children <5 y of age were 22% (95% confidence interval 6%–44%) and 17% (95% confidence interval 5%–27%) lower than expected, respectively. A cumulative total of ∼1,500 fewer diarrhea deaths and 130,000 fewer admissions were observed among children <5 y during the three years after rotavirus vaccination. The largest reductions in deaths (22%–28%) and admissions (21%–25%) were among children younger than 2 y, who had the highest rates of vaccination. In contrast, lower reductions in deaths (4%) and admissions (7%) were noted among children two years of age and older, who were not age-eligible for vaccination during the study period.
After the introduction of rotavirus vaccination for infants, significant declines for three full years were observed in under-5-y diarrhea-related mortality and hospital admissions for diarrhea in Brazil. The largest reductions in diarrhea-related mortality and hospital admissions for diarrhea were among children younger than 2 y, who were eligible for vaccination as infants, which suggests that the reduced diarrhea burden in this age group was associated with introduction of the rotavirus vaccine. These real-world data are consistent with evidence obtained from clinical trials and strengthen the evidence base for the introduction of rotavirus vaccination as an effective measure for controlling severe and fatal childhood diarrhea.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Diarrheal disease, usually caused by infectious agents, is the second major cause of death in children aged under five years. As highlighted in a recent PLoS Medicine series, access to clean water and improved sanitation is the key to the primary prevention of diarrheal illnesses. Yet despite the targets of Millennium Development Goal 7 to half the number of people without access to clean water or improved sanitation by 2015, over one billion people worldwide do not currently have access to clean water and over two billion do not currently have access to improved sanitation.
Since enteric viruses are primarily transmitted directly from one person to another, they cannot be controlled completely by improvements in sanitation. Therefore, although not replacing the urgent need to provide access to clean water and improved sanitation for all, vaccination programs that protect young children against some infections that cause diarrhea, such as rotavirus, which accounts for one-third of all child deaths caused by diarrhea, are a pragmatic way forward. As large clinical trials have shown the safety and efficacy of rotavirus vaccines in population settings, in July 2009, the World Health Organization recommended including rotavirus vaccines into every country's national immunization programs.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although the protective effect of rotavirus vaccines has been assessed in various high-, middle-, and low-income settings, for reasons that remain unclear, the efficacy of live, oral rotavirus vaccines appears to be dependent on geographical location and correlated to the socioeconomic status of the population. Because of these concerns, evaluating the health impact of large-scale rotavirus vaccine programs and ensuring their equity in a real-world setting (rather than in clinical trial conditions) is important.
Therefore, the researchers addressed this issue by conducting this study to evaluate the effect of rotavirus vaccination on mortality and hospital admissions for diarrhea due to all causes among young children in the five regions of Brazil. The researchers chose to do this study in Brazil because of the high incidence of diarrhea-related deaths and hospital admissions and because five years ago, in July 2006, the Brazilian Ministry of Health introduced the single-strain rotavirus vaccine simultaneously in all 27 states through its national immunization program—allowing for “before” and “after” intervention analysis.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers obtained data on diarrheal deaths and hospital admissions in children aged under five years for the period 2002–2005 and 2007–2009 and data on rotavirus vaccination rates. The researchers got the data on diarrhea deaths from the Brazilian Mortality Information System—the national database of information collected from death certificates that covers 90% of all deaths in Brazil. The data on hospital admissions came from the electronic Hospital Information System of Brazil's Unified Health System (Sistema Unico de Saúde, SUS)—the publicly funded health-care system that covers roughly 70% of the hospitalizations and includes information on all admissions (from public hospitals and some private hospitals) authorized for payment by the Unified Health System. The researchers got regional rotavirus vaccination coverage estimates for 2007–2009 from the information department of the Ministry of Health, and estimated coverage of the two doses of oral rotavirus vaccine by taking the annual number of second doses administered divided by the number of infants in the region.
In 2007, an estimated 80% of infants received two doses of rotavirus vaccine, and by 2009, this proportion rose to 84% of children younger than one year of age. The researchers found that in the three years following the introduction of rotavirus vaccination, diarrhea-related mortality rates and admissions among children aged under five years were respectively 22% and 17% lower than expected, with a cumulative total of 1,500 fewer diarrhea deaths and 130,000 fewer admissions. Furthermore, the largest reductions in deaths and admissions were among children who had the highest rates of vaccination (less than two years of age), and the lowest reductions were among children who were not eligible for vaccination during the study period (aged 2–4 years).
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that the introduction of rotavirus vaccination in all areas of Brazil is associated with reduced diarrhea-related deaths and hospital admissions in children aged under five years. These real-world impact data are consistent with the clinical trials and strengthen the evidence base for rotavirus vaccination as an effective measure for controlling severe and fatal childhood diarrhea.
These findings have important global policy implications. In middle-income countries, such as Brazil, that are not eligible for financial support from donors, the potential reductions in admissions and other health-care costs will be important for cost-effectiveness considerations to justify the purchase of these still relatively expensive vaccines.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
PLoS Medicine has published a series on water and sanitation
More information is available from the World Health Organization on diarrheal illness in children
More information is available about rotavirus vaccines from the World Health Organization, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Rotavirus Vaccine Program
PMCID: PMC3079643  PMID: 21526228
6.  Epidemiology of Rotavirus and Cholera in Children Aged Less Than Five Years in Rural Bangladesh 
Despite the known presence of rotavirus-associated diarrhoea in Bangladesh, its prevalence, including records of hospitalization in rural health facilities, is largely unknown. In a systematic surveillance undertaken in two government-run rural health facilities, 457 children, aged less than five years, having acute watery diarrhoea, were studied between August 2005 and July 2007 to determine the prevalence of rotavirus. Due to limited financial support, the surveillance of rotavirus was included as an addendum to an ongoing study for cholera in the same area. Rotavirus infection was detected in 114 (25%) and Vibrio cholerae in 63 (14%) children. Neither rotavirus nor V. cholerae was detected in 280 (61%) samples; these were termed ‘non-rotavirus and non-cholera’ diarrhoea. Both rotavirus and cholera were detected in all groups of patients (<5 years). The highest proportion (41%; 47/114) of rotavirus was in the age-group of 6-11 months. In children aged less than 18 months, the proportion (67%; 76/114) of rotavirus was significantly (p<0.001) higher than that of cholera (16%; 10/63). By contrast, the proportion (84%; 53/63) of cholera was significantly (p<0.001) higher than that of rotavirus (33%; 38/114) in the age-group of 18-59 months. During the study period, 528 children were hospitalized for various illnesses. Thirty-eight percent (202/528) of the hospitalizations were due to acute watery diarrhoea, and 62% were due to non-diarrhoeal illnesses. Rotavirus accounted for 34% of hospitalizations due to diarrhoea. Severe dehydration was detected in 16% (74/457) of the children. The proportion (51%; 32/63) of severe dehydration among V. cholerae-infected children was significantly higher (p<0.001) compared to the proportion (16%; 18/114) of rotavirus-infected children. The study revealed that 12-14% of the hospitalizations in rural Bangladesh in this age-group were due to rotavirus infection, which has not been previously documented.
PMCID: PMC3075054  PMID: 21528784
Cholera; Diarrhoea; Hospitalizations; Rotavirus infections; Vibrio cholerae; Bangladesh
7.  Cost-effectiveness of Rotavirus vaccination in Vietnam 
BMC Public Health  2009;9:29.
Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrhea leading to hospitalization or disease-specific death among young children. New rotavirus vaccines have recently been approved. Some previous studies have provided broad qualitative insights into the health and economic consequences of introducing the vaccines into low-income countries, representing several features of rotavirus infection, such as varying degrees of severity and age-dependency of clinical manifestation, in their model-based analyses. We extend this work to reflect additional features of rotavirus (e.g., the possibility of reinfection and varying degrees of partial immunity conferred by natural infection), and assess the influence of the features on the cost-effectiveness of rotavirus vaccination.
We developed a Markov model that reflects key features of rotavirus infection, using the most recent data available. We applied the model to the 2004 Vietnamese birth cohort and re-evaluated the cost-effectiveness (2004 US dollars per disability-adjusted life year [DALY]) of rotavirus vaccination (Rotarix®) compared to no vaccination, from both societal and health care system perspectives. We conducted univariate sensitivity analyses and also performed a probabilistic sensitivity analysis, based on Monte Carlo simulations drawing parameter values from the distributions assigned to key uncertain parameters.
Rotavirus vaccination would not completely protect young children against rotavirus infection due to the partial nature of vaccine immunity, but would effectively reduce severe cases of rotavirus gastroenteritis (outpatient visits, hospitalizations, or deaths) by about 67% over the first 5 years of life. Under base-case assumptions (94% coverage and $5 per dose), the incremental cost per DALY averted from vaccination compared to no vaccination would be $540 from the societal perspective and $550 from the health care system perspective.
Introducing rotavirus vaccines would be a cost-effective public health intervention in Vietnam. However, given the uncertainty about vaccine efficacy and potential changes in rotavirus epidemiology in local settings, further clinical research and re-evaluation of rotavirus vaccination programs may be necessary as new information emerges.
PMCID: PMC2663769  PMID: 19159483
8.  The effect of rotavirus vaccine on diarrhoea mortality 
International Journal of Epidemiology  2010;39(Suppl 1):i56-i62.
Background Approximately 39% of the global diarrhoea deaths in children aged 5 years may be attributable to rotavirus infection. Two rotavirus vaccines were recently introduced to the market, with evidence of efficacy in the USA, Europe and Latin America. We sought to estimate the effectiveness of these vaccines against rotavirus morbidity and mortality.
Methods We conducted a systematic review of published efficacy and effectiveness trials of rotavirus vaccines. Study descriptors and outcome measures were abstracted into standardized tables and the quality of each study was graded. We performed meta-analyses for any outcome with two or more data points, and used child health epidemiology reference group (CHERG) Rules for Evidence Review to estimate the effect of the vaccine on rotavirus mortality.
Results We identified six papers for abstraction, reporting results from four studies. No studies reported diarrhoea or rotavirus deaths, but all studies showed reductions in hospitalizations due to rotavirus or diarrhoea of any aetiology, severe and any rotavirus infections and diarrhoea episodes of any aetiology in children who received rotavirus vaccine compared with placebo. Effectiveness against very severe rotavirus infection best approximated effectiveness against the fraction of diarrhoea deaths attributable to rotavirus, and was estimated to be 74% (95% confidence interval: 35–90%).
Conclusions Rotavirus vaccines are efficacious against rotavirus morbidity and mortality and have the potential to substantially reduce child mortality in low-income countries if implemented appropriately.
PMCID: PMC2845861  PMID: 20348127
Rotavirus vaccine; diarrhoea; child; systematic review; meta-analysis
9.  Economic analysis of rotavirus-associated diarrhea in the metropolitan Toronto and Peel regions of Ontario 
To measure the economic cost of rotavirus-associated diarrhea for a selected group of families, in a nonexperimental setting, and to estimate the factors that influence these costs.
Use and other socioeconomic data from a family survey (the Pediatric Rotavirus Epidemiology Study for Immunization) of children who tested positive for rotavirus were collected for the metropolitan Toronto and Peel regions of Ontario during the rotavirus season of 1997-1998. Service costs were estimated from provider data. A statistical regression analysis was used to explain the variances of provincial health care costs, prescription drug costs and indirect (work-loss) costs.
Data were collected in hospitals, emergency rooms, paediatric practices, primary care clinics and licensed daycare centres. Hospital coverage was wide, but community coverage was not.
Children with diarrhea were tested for rotavirus. Those who tested positive and whose parents consented for their children to participate were included in the study.
The main outcomes were provincial health care costs, drug costs, nonmedical costs and the number of days of work missed by parents per child, as well as factors that determine these costs.
Children in the most severe category incurred costs of $2,663/person, and those in the least severe categories incurred costs of approximately $350/person. The most important determinant to explain provincial health care costs was the number of health problems that the child had before having rotavirus. Costs due to work loss of parents were considerable for children in all severity groups and were influenced by family working conditions.
When considering the economic implications of rotavirus, prior health status should be considered and indirect costs should be recognized for their importance.
PMCID: PMC2094866  PMID: 18159388
Cost; Cost analysis; Rotavirus
10.  Group A Rotavirus Infection and Age-Dependent Diarrheal Disease in Rats: a New Animal Model To Study the Pathophysiology of Rotavirus Infection 
Journal of Virology  2002;76(1):41-57.
Group A rotaviruses are major pathogens causing acute gastroenteritis in children and animals. To determine if group A rotavirus replicates and induces disease in rats, antibody-negative Lewis neonatal or adult rats were inoculated orally with tissue culture-adapted human (Wa, WI61, and HAL1166), simian (rhesus rotavirus [RRV] and SA11), bovine (WC3), lapine (ALA), or porcine (OSU) rotavirus strains, wild-type murine (ECwt) rotavirus strain, or phosphate-buffered saline (PBS). Rotavirus infection in rats was evaluated by (i) clinical findings, (ii) virus antigen shedding or infectious virus titers in the feces or intestinal contents measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay or fluorescent-focus assay, (iii) histopathological changes in the small intestine, (iv) distribution of rotavirus antigen in small-intestine sections by immunofluorescence, and (v) growth rate. Rotavirus infection of 5-day-old but not ≥21-day-old rats resulted in diarrhea that lasted from 1 to 10 days postinoculation. The severity of disease and spread of infection to naÏve littermates differed depending on the virus strain used for inoculation. The duration of virus antigen shedding following infection was considerably prolonged (up to 10 days) in neonatal rats compared to that in 21-day-old rats (1 or 2 days). Based on lack of virus antigen shedding and disease induction, the murine ECwt rotavirus was the only strain tested that did not infect rats. Histopathological changes in the small-intestine mucosa of 5-day-old RRV-inoculated rats but not of PBS-inoculated rats was limited to extensive enterocyte vacuolation in the ileum. In RRV-inoculated neonatal rats, rotavirus antigen was detected in the epithelial cells on the upper half of the intestinal villi of the jejunum and ileum. In addition, infection of neonatal rats with RRV but not with PBS resulted in reduced weight gain. Rats infected with group A rotaviruses provide a new animal model with unique features amenable to investigate rotavirus pathogenesis and the molecular mechanisms of intestinal development, including physiological factors that may regulate age-dependent rotavirus-induced diarrhea.
PMCID: PMC135688  PMID: 11739670
11.  Family impact of Rotavirus Gastroenteritis in Taiwan and Vietnam: an Ethnographic Study 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2015;15:240.
Prior to the introduction of rotavirus vaccines, rotavirus was the leading cause of severe gastroenteritis in infants and young children, and it continues to be the leading cause in countries without vaccination programs. Rotavirus gastroenteritis results in substantial economic burden and has a pronounced effect on the family of those who are ill. Both in Taiwan and in Vietnam, rotavirus illness is viewed as a priority disease. This study assessed, in Taiwan and Vietnam, the impact of rotavirus gastroenteritis on the family among a group of parents whose children had recently been hospitalized for this illness.
In the first half of 2013, parents of children who had been hospitalized due to rotavirus infection were recruited from hospitals in Taiwan (n = 12) and Vietnam (n = 22), and participated in focus group sessions or in-depth ethnographic interviews.
In both countries, the results point to a substantial burden on the parents concerning emotions and logistics of daily tasks, and to considerable disruptions of the family routine. Taiwanese parents reported satisfaction with the health care system, a great deal of effort to suppress emotions, a fair amount of knowledge about rotavirus, and little extra costs related to the illness. On the other hand, parents in Vietnam expressed concern about the emotional well-being of and the health care treatments for their children, were less knowledgeable regarding rotavirus infection, and experienced a substantial financial burden due to indirect costs that were related to accessing treatment.
Families in Taiwan and Vietnam suffer from a considerable economic and emotional burden related to rotavirus gastroenteritis. One way to substantially reduce this burden is to provide universal and affordable rotavirus vaccination to susceptible children, especially since cost-effectiveness studies have demonstrated that universal vaccination would be safe and efficacious against severe rotavirus gastroenteritis in these countries.
PMCID: PMC4477420  PMID: 26100919
Rotavirus infection; Asia; Taiwan; Vietnam; Family impact; Ethnographic study; Focus groups; Economic impact; Emotional impact
12.  Comparison of serum and mucosal antibody responses following severe acute rotavirus gastroenteritis in young children. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1988;26(4):732-738.
The development of mucosal immunity is presumed to be the most important marker of rotavirus infection. The practical difficulties of obtaining small-bowel secretions stimulated this study of the antibody response to acute rotavirus infection at other sites. Forty-four infants admitted to the hospital with rotavirus gastroenteritis had serum, saliva, and feces collected at the acute phase (median, 5.5 days), during convalescence (median, 33.5 days), and 4 months later (median, 12.2 weeks). A subgroup of 19 children also had duodenal juice collected in parallel. Rotavirus-specific immunoglobulin G (IgG), IgA, secretory immunoglobulin, and IgM were measured and compared in all samples. The results showed that the estimation of antirotavirus serum IgM, serum IgG, duodenal juice IgA, and duodenal juice IgM by an enzyme immunoassay indicated an immune response to severe primary rotavirus infection in all children. Four months later, the levels of serum IgG and IgA served as the most sensitive markers of the preceding rotavirus infection. The predictive accuracies of immune responses at different sites in relation to a positive IgA immune response in the duodenum were calculated. Fecal IgA predicted duodenal IgA rotavirus antibodies with accuracies of 86% at 1 month and 92% at 4 months. The high sensitivity of serum IgM and IgG in detecting rotavirus infection and the high predictive accuracy of fecal IgA as an indicator of duodenal IgA abrogates the need for duodenal intubation to detect (or monitor) an immune response to rotavirus infection. This finding has important practical implications for epidemiological studies of acute diarrhea in children and in rotavirus vaccine trials.
PMCID: PMC266431  PMID: 2835391
13.  Recombinant Outer Capsid Glycoprotein (VP7) of Rotavirus Expressed in Insect Cells Induces Neutralizing Antibodies in Rabbits 
Rotaviruses cause diarrhea in infants and young children worldwide. Rotavirus outer capsid protein, VP7 is major neutralizing antigen that is important component of subunit vaccine to prevent rotavirus infection. Many efforts have been done to produce recombinant VP7 that maintain native characteristics. We used baculovirus expression system to produce rotavirus VP7 protein and to study its immunogenicity.
Simian rotavirus SA11 full-length VP7 ORF was cloned into a cloning plasmid and then the cloned gene was inserted into the linear DNA of baculovirus Autographa californica Nuclear Polyhedrosis Virus (AcNPV) downstream of the polyhedrin promoter by in vitro recombination reactions. The expressed VP7 in the insect cells was recognized by rabbit hyperimmune serum raised against SA11 rotavirus by Immunofluorescence and western blotting assays. Rabbits were immunized subcutaneously by cell extracts expressing VP7 protein.
Reactivity with anti-rotavirus antibody suggested that expressed VP7 protein had native antigenic determinants. Injection of recombinant VP7 in rabbits elicited the production of serum antibodies, which were able to recognize VP7 protein from SA11 rotavirus by Western blotting test and neutralized SA11 rotavirus in cell culture.
Recombinant outer capsid glycoprotein (VP7) of rotavirus expressed in insect cells induces neutralizing antibodies in rabbits and may be a candidate of rotavirus vaccine.
PMCID: PMC3468985  PMID: 23113180
Rotavirus; VP7; Expression; Baculovirus; Insect cell
14.  Development of neutralizing antibodies and group A common antibodies against natural infections with human rotavirus. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1988;26(8):1506-1512.
We determined the levels of group A common and neutralizing antibodies against human rotavirus in paired serum specimens obtained from 38 infants within 12 days of the onset of diarrhea. Thirty of the infants excreted rotavirus in stools, and eight did not. Nine patients (30%) with rotavirus diarrhea and seven patients (88%) with diarrhea due to other causes had detectable levels (greater than or equal to 1: 80) of immunoglobulin (IgG) common antibodies in acute-phase sera. All the patients with rotavirus diarrhea showed at least fourfold rises in titers of IgG or IgM common antibodies or both, while only two control patients showed significant rises in either IgG or IgM common antibodies in their convalescent-phase sera. Of the 19 patients excreting "short" electropherotypes of rotavirus, 18 showed at least fourfold rises in titers of neutralizing antibodies against serotype 2 human rotavirus but not against serotype 1, 3, or 4. Nine of the ten patients excreting "long" electropherotypes showed significant rises in neutralizing antibodies against serotype 3, and the other patient showed a significant rise in neutralizing antibodies against serotype 1. One patient excreted long and short electropherotypes simultaneously, and he also showed a significant rise in neutralizing antibodies against serotype 2 and 3 viruses. The control patients with diarrhea did not show significant changes in titers of antibodies against any of the serotypes. These results demonstrated that the neutralizing antibody response within 2 weeks after clinical onset is specific for the infecting serotype of rotavirus.
PMCID: PMC266651  PMID: 2844845
15.  Comparison of rotavirus immunoglobulin A coproconversion with other indices of rotavirus infection in a longitudinal study in childhood. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1990;28(6):1367-1374.
In order to determine the sensitivity and reliability of antirotaviral fecal immunoglobulin A (IgA) as an indicator of rotavirus reinfection, the antibody responses to rotavirus of 44 infants with severe rotavirus gastroenteritis recruited on admission to a hospital were studied. Feces were collected daily during hospitalization and weekly thereafter, and sera were obtained every 4 months, for 6 to 32 months (median, 17 months). Antirotaviral IgG, IgA, and IgM were measured by enzyme immunoassay in all samples. Rotavirus antigen, rotavirus-neutralizing antibody, and total IgA were measured in feces. The results showed that use of an IgA index (ratio of specific IgA to total IgA) was unnecessary to identify copro-IgA conversion to rotavirus. The other markers of rotavirus infection tested showed a high level of predictive accuracy of coproconversion in rotavirus-neutralizing antibody. Copro-IgM, serum IgM, and virus in feces were insensitive measures of neutralizing antibody coproconversion. Seroconversion in IgG or IgA was detected in 46% of neutralizing coproconversions. The most sensitive marker, present in 92% of neutralizing coproconversions, was antirotaviral fecal IgA conversion. This correlation of fecal IgA with fecal neutralizing antibody suggests that coproconversions in IgA represent true elevations in antirotaviral IgA with neutralizing capacity. A coproconversion in IgA appears to indicate genuine rotavirus infection. Copro-IgA conversions in feces collected weekly are likely to be more sensitive markers of rotavirus reinfection than are seroconversion and virus detection combined in epidemiological studies of acute diarrhea in children and in rotavirus vaccine trials.
PMCID: PMC267934  PMID: 2166082
16.  Disease burden and related medical costs of rotavirus infections in Taiwan 
The disease burden and associated medical costs of rotavirus infections in inpatient and outpatient sectors in Taiwan were examined in anticipation of the availability of new rotavirus vaccines.
The yearly national case number and medical costs for all for inpatients and outpatients with acute gastroenteritis (AGE) were extracted from the Bureau of National Health Insurance database in Taiwan according to ICD-9-CM codes. A retrospective study was also performed using records of children with AGE seen at three hospitals in Taiwan in 2001 to identify laboratory confirmed rotavirus infection cases. The annual incidence and related medical costs of AGE due to rotavirus infection were then estimated.
Children <5 years old comprised 83.6% of inpatient and 62.0% of outpatient pediatric AGE cases in Taiwan in 2001. Rotavirus was the most common agent detected among AGE patients in this age group in the three hospitals, and was detected in 32.9% (221/672) of inpatient and 24% (23/96) of outpatient stool specimens tested for microbial etiologies. An estimated 277,400 to 624,892 cases of rotavirus infections sought medical care in Taiwan in 2001, equaling one in 2 to 5 children <5 years old required medical care due to rotavirus infection. The incidence of hospitalization due to rotavirus infections was 1,528–1,997/100,000 for children <5 years old. The total associated medical costs due to rotavirus infection were estimated at US $10–16 millions in Taiwan in 2001. Although the per-capita medical cost of rotavirus infection was lower in Taiwan than in the United States or Hong Kong, the personal economic burden was similar among the three places when normalized for gross national incomes per capita.
Infections caused by rotavirus constitute an important human and economic burden among young children in Taiwan. A safe and effective vaccine is urgently needed.
PMCID: PMC1764884  PMID: 17173677
17.  Child Mortality Estimation: Estimating Sex Differences in Childhood Mortality since the 1970s 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(8):e1001287.
Cheryl Sawyer uses new methods to generate estimates of sex differences in child mortality which can be used to pinpoint areas where these differences in mortality merit closer examination.
Producing estimates of infant (under age 1 y), child (age 1–4 y), and under-five (under age 5 y) mortality rates disaggregated by sex is complicated by problems with data quality and availability. Interpretation of sex differences requires nuanced analysis: girls have a biological advantage against many causes of death that may be eroded if they are disadvantaged in access to resources. Earlier studies found that girls in some regions were not experiencing the survival advantage expected at given levels of mortality. In this paper I generate new estimates of sex differences for the 1970s to the 2000s.
Methods and Findings
Simple fitting methods were applied to male-to-female ratios of infant and under-five mortality rates from vital registration, surveys, and censuses. The sex ratio estimates were used to disaggregate published series of both-sexes mortality rates that were based on a larger number of sources. In many developing countries, I found that sex ratios of mortality have changed in the same direction as historically occurred in developed countries, but typically had a lower degree of female advantage for a given level of mortality. Regional average sex ratios weighted by numbers of births were found to be highly influenced by China and India, the only countries where both infant mortality and overall under-five mortality were estimated to be higher for girls than for boys in the 2000s. For the less developed regions (comprising Africa, Asia excluding Japan, Latin America/Caribbean, and Oceania excluding Australia and New Zealand), on average, boys' under-five mortality in the 2000s was about 2% higher than girls'. A number of countries were found to still experience higher mortality for girls than boys in the 1–4-y age group, with concentrations in southern Asia, northern Africa/western Asia, and western Africa. In the more developed regions (comprising Europe, northern America, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand), I found that the sex ratio of infant mortality peaked in the 1970s or 1980s and declined thereafter.
The methods developed here pinpoint regions and countries where sex differences in mortality merit closer examination to ensure that both sexes are sharing equally in access to health resources. Further study of the distribution of causes of death in different settings will aid the interpretation of differences in survival for boys and girls.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Editors' Summary
In 2000, world leaders agreed to eradicate extreme poverty by 2015. To help track progress towards this global commitment, eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were set. MDG 4, which aims to reduce child mortality, calls for a reduction in under-five mortality (the number of children who die before their fifth birthday) to a third of its 1990 level of 12 million by 2015. The under-five mortality rate is also denoted in the literature as U5MR and 5q0. Progress towards MDG 4 has been substantial, but with only three years left to reach it, efforts to strengthen child survival programs are intensifying. Reliable estimates of trends in childhood mortality are pivotal to these efforts. So, since 2004, the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME) has used statistical regression models to produce estimates of trends in under-five mortality and infant mortality (death before age one year) from data about childbearing and child survival collected by vital registration systems (records of all births and deaths), household surveys, and censuses.
Why Was This Study Done?
In addition to estimates of overall childhood mortality trends, information about sex-specific childhood mortality trends is desirable to monitor progress towards MDG 4, although the interpretation of trends in the relative mortality of girls and boys is not straightforward. Newborn girls survive better than newborn boys because they are less vulnerable to birth complications and infections and have fewer inherited abnormalities. Thus, the ratio of infant mortality among boys to infant mortality among girls is greater than one, provided both sexes have equal access to food and medical care. Beyond early infancy, girls and boys are similarly vulnerable to infections, so the sex ratio of deaths in the 1–4-year age group is generally lower than that of infant mortality. Notably, as living conditions improve in developing countries, infectious diseases become less important as causes of death. Thus, in the absence of sex-specific differences in the treatment of children, the sex ratio of childhood mortality is expected be greater than one and to increase as overall under-five mortality rates in developing countries decrease. In this study, the researcher evaluated national and regional changes in the sex ratios of childhood mortality since the 1970s to investigate whether girls and boys have equal access to medical care and other resources.
What Did the Researcher Do and Find?
The researcher developed new statistical fitting methods to estimate trends in the sex ratio of mortality for infants and young children for individual countries and world regions. When considering individual countries, the researcher found that for 92 countries in less developed regions, the median sex ratio of under-five mortality increased between the 1970s and the 2000s, in line with the expected changes just described. However, the average sex ratio of under-five mortality for less developed regions, weighted according to the number of births in each country, did not increase between the 1970s and 2000s, at which time the average under-five mortality rate of boys was about 2% higher than that of girls. This discrepancy resulted from India and China—the two most populous developing countries—having sex ratios for both infant and under-five mortality that remained constant or declined over the study period and were below one in the 2000s, a result that indicates excess female mortality. In China, for example, infant mortality was found to be 12% higher for boys than for girls in the 1970s, but 24% lower for boys than for girls in the 2000s. Finally, although in the less developed regions (excluding India and China) girls went from having a slight survival disadvantage at ages 1–4 years in the 1970s, on average, to having a slight advantage in the 2000s, girls remained more likely to die than boys in this age group in several Asian and African countries.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Although the quality of the available data is likely to affect the accuracy of these findings, in most developing countries the ratio of male to female under-five mortality has increased since the 1970s, in parallel with the decrease in overall childhood mortality. Notably, however, in a number of developing countries—including several each in sub-Saharan Africa, northern Africa/western Asia, and southern Asia—girls have higher mortality than boys at ages 1–4 years, and in India and China girls have higher mortality in infancy. Thus, girls are benefitting less than boys from the overall decline in childhood mortality in India, China, and some other developing countries. Further studies are needed to determine the underlying reasons for this observation. Nevertheless, the methods developed here to estimate trends in sex-specific childhood mortality pinpoint countries and regions where greater efforts should be made to ensure that both sexes have equal access to health care and other important resources during early life.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
This paper is part of a collection of papers on Child Mortality Estimation Methods published in PLOS Medicine
The United Nations Childrens Fund works for children's rights, survival, development, and protection around the world; it provides information on Millennium Development Goal 4, and its Childinfo website provides detailed statistics about child survival and health, including a description of the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation; the 2011 UN IGME report Levels & Trends in Child Mortality is available
The World Health Organization also has information about Millennium Development Goal 4 and provides estimates of child mortality rates (some information in several languages)
Further information about the Millennium Development Goals is available
A 2011 report by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs entitled Sex Differentials in Childhood Mortality is available
PMCID: PMC3429399  PMID: 22952433
18.  Global, regional, and national age-sex specific all-cause and cause-specific mortality for 240 causes of death, 1990-2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013 
Lancet  2014;385(9963):117-171.
Up-to-date evidence on levels and trends for age-sex-specific all-cause and cause-specific mortality is essential for the formation of global, regional, and national health policies. In the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013 (GBD 2013) we estimated yearly deaths for 188 countries between 1990, and 2013. We used the results to assess whether there is epidemiological convergence across countries.
We estimated age-sex-specific all-cause mortality using the GBD 2010 methods with some refinements to improve accuracy applied to an updated database of vital registration, survey, and census data. We generally estimated cause of death as in the GBD 2010. Key improvements included the addition of more recent vital registration data for 72 countries, an updated verbal autopsy literature review, two new and detailed data systems for China, and more detail for Mexico, UK, Turkey, and Russia. We improved statistical models for garbage code redistribution. We used six different modelling strategies across the 240 causes; cause of death ensemble modelling (CODEm) was the dominant strategy for causes with sufficient information. Trends for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias were informed by meta-regression of prevalence studies. For pathogen-specific causes of diarrhoea and lower respiratory infections we used a counterfactual approach. We computed two measures of convergence (inequality) across countries: the average relative difference across all pairs of countries (Gini coefficient) and the average absolute difference across countries. To summarise broad findings, we used multiple decrement life-tables to decompose probabilities of death from birth to exact age 15 years, from exact age 15 years to exact age 50 years, and from exact age 50 years to exact age 75 years, and life expectancy at birth into major causes. For all quantities reported, we computed 95% uncertainty intervals (UIs). We constrained cause-specific fractions within each age-sex-country-year group to sum to all-cause mortality based on draws from the uncertainty distributions.
Global life expectancy for both sexes increased from 65·3 years (UI 65·0–65·6) in 1990, to 71·5 years (UI 71·0–71·9) in 2013, while the number of deaths increased from 47·5 million (UI 46·8–48·2) to 54·9 million (UI 53·6–56·3) over the same interval. Global progress masked variation by age and sex: for children, average absolute differences between countries decreased but relative differences increased. For women aged 25–39 years and older than 75 years and for men aged 20–49 years and 65 years and older, both absolute and relative differences increased. Decomposition of global and regional life expectancy showed the prominent role of reductions in age-standardised death rates for cardiovascular diseases and cancers in high-income regions, and reductions in child deaths from diarrhoea, lower respiratory infections, and neonatal causes in low-income regions. HIV/AIDS reduced life expectancy in southern sub-Saharan Africa. For most communicable causes of death both numbers of deaths and age-standardised death rates fell whereas for most non-communicable causes, demographic shifts have increased numbers of deaths but decreased age-standardised death rates. Global deaths from injury increased by 10·7%, from 4·3 million deaths in 1990 to 4·8 million in 2013; but age-standardised rates declined over the same period by 21%. For some causes of more than 100 000 deaths per year in 2013, age-standardised death rates increased between 1990 and 2013, including HIV/AIDS, pancreatic cancer, atrial fibrillation and flutter, drug use disorders, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and sickle-cell anaemias. Diarrhoeal diseases, lower respiratory infections, neonatal causes, and malaria are still in the top five causes of death in children younger than 5 years. The most important pathogens are rotavirus for diarrhoea and pneumococcus for lower respiratory infections. Country-specific probabilities of death over three phases of life were substantially varied between and within regions.
For most countries, the general pattern of reductions in age-sex specific mortality has been associated with a progressive shift towards a larger share of the remaining deaths caused by non-communicable disease and injuries. Assessing epidemiological convergence across countries depends on whether an absolute or relative measure of inequality is used. Nevertheless, age-standardised death rates for seven substantial causes are increasing, suggesting the potential for reversals in some countries. Important gaps exist in the empirical data for cause of death estimates for some countries; for example, no national data for India are available for the past decade.
PMCID: PMC4340604  PMID: 25530442
19.  The Safety and Immunogenicity of Rotavirus Vaccination in Infants With Intestinal Failure 
Young children with intestinal failure are at risk for complications from rotavirus gastroenteritis. To date, the safety and immunogenicity of rotavirus vaccines in these children are not known. We hypothesized that rotavirus vaccination would be safe and confer immunity to infants with intestinal failure and a history of abdominal surgery.
The study population consisted of infants with early intestinal failure who required abdominal surgery and parenteral nutrition for necrotizing enterocolitis, gastroschisis, jejunoileal atresia, or meconium peritonitis. Subjects received a rotavirus vaccine series at the appropriate age. Safety assessments were performed for the first 5 days after each vaccine dose. Viral stool shedding and serum rotavirus antigen were measured at multiple time points after each dose of the vaccine. A 3-fold increase in rotavirus immunoglobulin A titer at study completion defined seroconversion.
Fifteen infants were enrolled and 14 infants completed the study protocol. Mild diarrhea, emesis, and fever were noted after vaccination in 33%, 40%, and 7% of subjects, respectively. No subject experienced postvaccine intussusception, viremia, dehydration, or required alterations in nutritional care. Viral stool shedding was noted in 47%, but only 1 child shed virus beyond 2 weeks postvaccination. All subjects who were not considered immune at baseline developed seroconversion to rotavirus after vaccination.
In infants with intestinal failure, rotavirus vaccination appears to be safe and immunogenic. We found no evidence for altered viral shedding in this population. Given the profound consequences associated with rotavirus infection and potential benefits of rotavirus vaccine in this cohort, multicenter studies focusing on vaccine efficacy are warranted.
PMCID: PMC3933047  PMID: 24567844
immunogenicity; infants; intestinal failure; rotavirus; rotavirus vaccine; safety
20.  The molecular epidemiology of circulating rotaviruses: three-year surveillance in the region of Monastir, Tunisia 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:266.
Rotavirus infection is the most common cause of severe, dehydrating, gastroenteritis among children worldwide. In developing countries, approximately 1440 children die from rotavirus infections each day, with an estimated 527,000 annually. In infants, rotavirus is estimated to cause more than 2 million hospitalizations every year depending on the income level of the country.
The purpose of this study was to estimate the proportion of rotavirus gastroenteritis and identify the distribution of circulating G and P genotype rotavirus strains among children consulting several dispensaries in the region of Monastir (outpatients departments) or admitted to Monastir University Hospital (inpatients department) with acute gastroenteritis.
This study was undertaken during a 3-year period from April 2007 to April 2010 in Tunisian children under 13 suffering from acute gastroenteritis. Group A rotaviruses were detected in stools by ELISA and genotyped using multiplex reverse transcription PCRs with type-specific primers on the basis of their outer capsid proteins. Statistical analyses were performed with SPSS software, version 19.
Of the 435 stool samples from children with acute gastroenteritis, 27.6% were positive for rotavirus A. The predominant G type was G1 (37.5%), followed by G3 (25%), G2 (17.5%), G4 (12.5%), G9 (2.5%) and three mixed-G infections G3G4 (2.5%) were identified.
Only P[8] (80.8%), P[4] (16.7%) and P[9] (0.8%) genotypes were found. The predominant single G/P combination was G1P[8] (37.5%), followed by G3P[8] (25%), G2P[4] (16.7%), G4P[8] (12.5%), G9P[8] (1.7%) and one case of the unusual combination G9P[9] (0.8%). The G-mixed types G3G4 combined with P[8] (2.5%). Infants less than 3 months of age were most frequently affected. The prevalence of rotavirus infection peaked in the winter season, when temperatures were low, and decreased in summer.
Rotavirus gastroenteritis is a common disease associated with significant morbidity, mortality, and economic burden. Epidemiological knowledge of rotavirus is critical for the development of effective preventive measures, including vaccines.
These data will help to make informed decisions as to whether rotavirus vaccine should be considered for inclusion in Tunisia's National Immunisation Programme.
PMCID: PMC3193173  PMID: 21967503
21.  Analysis of homotypic and heterotypic serum immune responses to rotavirus proteins following primary rotavirus infection by using the radioimmunoprecipitation technique. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1993;31(2):377-385.
Three sequential serum samples collected from each of 20 young children with a naturally acquired primary rotavirus infection were assayed by the radioimmunoprecipitation technique for immunoglobulin G antibodies to rotavirus structural and nonstructural proteins of the four major human rotavirus serotypes G1, P1A; G2, P1B; G3, P2; and G4, P2. Fourteen children were infected with a serotype G1 rotavirus strain and six children were infected with a serotype G4 rotavirus strain. Sera were collected from each child in the acute and convalescent periods postinfection and also approximately 4 months later. Serum immune responses to rotavirus core antigens VP2 and VP3, to the major inner capsid antigen VP6, to nonstructural proteins NS35, NS28, and NS26, and to the outer capsid neutralization antigen VP4 of all test strains were detected in the majority of patients. These responses do not appear to be influenced by the G type or P type of the rotavirus strain used in the reactions. Homologous responses to the main neutralization antigen VP7 were detected in 93% of patients with serotype G1 infections and 50% of patients with serotype G4 infections. Heterologous VP7 responses were less frequently detected and were restricted to G1, G3, and G4 serotype rotavirus strains. No responses to VP7 of the serotype G2 rotavirus strain were detected in any patients. Heterotypic immune responses to the neutralization antigens, at least following serotype G1 and G4 infections, therefore appear to consist primarily of responses to VP4 rather than to VP7.
PMCID: PMC262769  PMID: 8381813
22.  Assessment of the Epidemic Potential of a New Strain of Rotavirus Associated with the Novel G9 Serotype Which Caused an Outbreak in the United States for the First Time in the 1995-1996 Season 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2004;42(4):1434-1438.
Rotavirus causes severe morbidity in developed countries and frequent deaths (≥500,000 per year) in less-developed countries. Historically, four serotypes—G1, G2, G3, and G4—have predominated; they are distinguished by one of two surface neutralization antigens (VP7). However, in 1983 and 1984 we described a new rotavirus serotype, designated G9, in five children hospitalized for diarrhea in Philadelphia, Pa. G9 rotavirus was not identified again in the Western Hemisphere until it caused ca. 50% of the rotavirus disease detected in Philadelphia in the 1995-1996 season. This outbreak allowed us to question whether a rotavirus strain completely new to a well-studied community would target either very young infants or older children, cause especially severe disease, or completely displace previously extant serotypes. We observed a significant excess of G9 infections in younger infants (especially in those <6 months old) that might be attributed to the lack of G9-specific antibodies in mothers. Of further note, six of the seven oldest patients with rotavirus diarrhea were infected with the G9 strains (not significant). However, the age distribution of children with rotavirus did not differ over a 5-year study period regardless of the infecting serotype. Patients with diarrhea associated with G9 strains did not have disease more severe than that caused by the G1, G2, or G3 serotype. G9 strains did not displace the other serotypes but were virtually completely replaced by G1 or G2 serotypes in the three subsequent rotavirus seasons. We conclude that the abrupt appearance of this novel rotavirus serotype did not present a special threat to public health in the community.
PMCID: PMC387540  PMID: 15070985
23.  Scaling properties and symmetrical patterns in the epidemiology of rotavirus infection. 
The rich epidemiological database of the incidence of rotavirus, as a cause of severe diarrhoea in young children, coupled with knowledge of the natural history of the infection, can make this virus a paradigm for studies of epidemic dynamics. The cyclic recurrence of childhood rotavirus epidemics in unvaccinated populations provides one of the best documented phenomena in population dynamics. This paper makes use of epidemiological data on rotavirus infection in young children admitted to hospital in Melbourne, Australia from 1977 to 2000. Several mathematical methods were used to characterize the overall dynamics of rotavirus infections as a whole and individually as serotypes G1, G2, G3, G4 and G9. These mathematical methods are as follows: seasonal autoregressive integrated moving-average (SARIMA) models, power spectral density (PSD), higher-order spectral analysis (HOSA) (bispectrum estimation and quadratic phase coupling (QPC)), detrended fluctuation analysis (DFA), wavelet analysis (WA) and a surrogate data analysis technique. Each of these techniques revealed different dynamic aspects of rotavirus epidemiology. In particular, we confirm the existence of an annual, biannual and a quinquennial period but additionally we found other embedded cycles (e.g. ca. 3 years). There seems to be an overall unique geometric and dynamic structure of the data despite the apparent changes in the dynamics of the last years. The inherent dynamics seems to be conserved regardless of the emergence of new serotypes, the re-emergence of old serotypes or the transient disappearance of a particular serotype. More importantly, the dynamics of all serotypes is multiple synchronized so that they behave as a single entity at the epidemic level. Overall, the whole dynamics follow a scale-free power-law fractal scaling behaviour. We found that there are three different scaling regions in the time-series, suggesting that processes influencing the epidemic dynamics of rotavirus over less than 12 months differ from those that operate between 1 and ca. 3 years, as well as those between 3 and ca. 5 years. To discard the possibility that the observed patterns could be due to artefacts, we applied a surrogate data analysis technique which enabled us to discern if only random components or linear features of the incidence of rotavirus contribute to its dynamics. The global dynamics of the epidemic is portrayed by wavelet-based incidence analysis. The resulting wavelet transform of the incidence of rotavirus crisply reveals a repeating pattern over time that looks similar on many scales (a property called self-similarity). Both the self-similar behaviour and the absence of a single characteristic scale of the power-law fractal-like scaling of the incidence of rotavirus infection imply that there is not a universal inherently more virulent serotype to which severe gastroenteritis can uniquely be ascribed.
PMCID: PMC1693266  PMID: 14561323
24.  Risk Factors for Death among Children Less than 5 Years Old Hospitalized with Diarrhea in Rural Western Kenya, 2005–2007: A Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(7):e1001256.
A hospital-based surveillance study conducted by Ciara O'Reilly and colleagues describes the risk factors for death amongst children who have been hospitalized with diarrhea in rural Kenya.
Diarrhea is a leading cause of childhood morbidity and mortality in sub-Saharan Africa. Data on risk factors for mortality are limited. We conducted hospital-based surveillance to characterize the etiology of diarrhea and identify risk factors for death among children hospitalized with diarrhea in rural western Kenya.
Methods and Findings
We enrolled all children <5 years old, hospitalized with diarrhea (≥3 loose stools in 24 hours) at two district hospitals in Nyanza Province, western Kenya. Clinical and demographic information was collected. Stool specimens were tested for bacterial and viral pathogens. Bivariate and multivariable logistic regression analyses were carried out to identify risk factors for death. From May 23, 2005 to May 22, 2007, 1,146 children <5 years old were enrolled; 107 (9%) children died during hospitalization. Nontyphoidal Salmonella were identified in 10% (118), Campylobacter in 5% (57), and Shigella in 4% (42) of 1,137 stool samples; rotavirus was detected in 19% (196) of 1,021 stool samples. Among stools from children who died, nontyphoidal Salmonella were detected in 22%, Shigella in 11%, rotavirus in 9%, Campylobacter in 5%, and S. Typhi in <1%. In multivariable analysis, infants who died were more likely to have nontyphoidal Salmonella (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 6·8; 95% CI 3·1–14·9), and children <5 years to have Shigella (aOR = 5·5; 95% CI 2·2–14·0) identified than children who survived. Children who died were less likely to be infected with rotavirus (OR = 0·4; 95% CI 0·2–0·8). Further risk factors for death included being malnourished (aOR = 4·2; 95% CI 2·1–8·7); having oral thrush on physical exam (aOR = 2·3; 95% CI 1·4–3·8); having previously sought care at a hospital for the illness (aOR = 2·2; 95% CI 1·2–3·8); and being dehydrated as diagnosed at discharge/death (aOR = 2·5; 95% CI 1·5–4·1). A clinical diagnosis of malaria, and malaria parasites seen on blood smear, were not associated with increased risk of death. This study only captured in-hospital childhood deaths, and likely missed a substantial number of additional deaths that occurred at home.
Nontyphoidal Salmonella and Shigella are associated with mortality among rural Kenyan children with diarrhea who access a hospital. Improved prevention and treatment of diarrheal disease is necessary. Enhanced surveillance and simplified laboratory diagnostics in Africa may assist clinicians in appropriately treating potentially fatal diarrheal illness.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Diarrhea—passing three or more loose or liquid stools per day—kills about 1.5 million young children every year, mainly in low- and middle-income countries. Globally, it is the second leading cause of death in under-5-year olds, causing nearly one in five child deaths. Diarrhea, which can lead to life-threatening dehydration, is a common symptom of gastrointestinal infections. The pathogens (viruses, bacteria, and parasites) that cause diarrhea spread through contaminated food or drinking water, and from person to person through poor hygiene and inadequate sanitation (unsafe disposal of human excreta). Interventions that prevent diarrhea include improvements in water supplies, sanitation and hygiene, the promotion of breast feeding, and vaccination against rotavirus (a major viral cause of diarrhea). Treatments for diarrhea include oral rehydration salts, which prevent and treat dehydration, zinc supplementation, which decreases the severity and duration of diarrhea, and the use of appropriate antibiotics when indicated for severe bacterial diarrhea.
Why Was This Study Done?
Nearly half of deaths from diarrhea among young children occur in Africa where diarrhea is the single largest cause of death among under 5-year-olds and a major cause of childhood illness. Unfortunately, although some of the risk factors for death from diarrhea in children in sub-Saharan Africa have been identified (for example, having other illnesses, poor nutrition, and not being breastfed), little is known about the relative contributions of different diarrhea-causing pathogens to diarrheal deaths. Clinicians need to know which of these pathogens are most likely to cause death in children so that they can manage their patients appropriately. In this cohort study, the researchers characterize the causes and risk factors associated with death among young children hospitalized for diarrhea in Nyanza Province, western Kenya, an area where most households have no access to safe drinking water and a quarter lack latrines. In a cohort study, a group of people with a specific condition is observed to identify which factors lead to different outcomes.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers enrolled all the children under 5 years old who were hospitalized over a two-year period for diarrhea at two district hospitals in Nyanza Province, tested their stool samples for diarrhea-causing viral and bacterial pathogens, and recorded which patients died in-hospital. They then used multivariable regression analysis (a statistical method) to determine which risk factors and diarrheal pathogens were associated with death among the children. During the study, 1,146 children were hospitalized, 107 of whom died in the hospital. 10% of all the stool samples contained nontyphoidal Salmonella, 4% contained Shigella (two types of diarrhea-causing bacteria), and 19% contained rotavirus. By contrast, 22% of the samples taken from children who died contained nontyphoidal Salmonella, 11% contained Shigella, 9% contained rotavirus, and 5% contained Campylobacter (another bacterial pathogen that causes diarrhea). Compared to survivors, infants (children under 1 year of age) who died were nearly seven times more likely to have nontyphoidal Salmonella in their stools and children under 5 years old who died were five and half times more likely to have Shigella in their stools but less likely to have rotavirus in their stools. Other factors associated with death included being malnourished, having oral thrush (a fungal infection of the mouth), having previously sought hospital care for diarrhea, and being dehydrated.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that, among young children admitted to the hospital in western Kenya with diarrhea, infections with nontyphoidal Salmonella and with Shigella (but not with rotavirus) were associated with an increased risk of death. Because this study only captured deaths in hospital and most diarrheal deaths in developing countries occur at home, these results may not accurately reflect the pathogens associated with overall childhood diarrheal deaths. In addition, they may not be generalizable to other geographical regions. Nevertheless, given that that there are currently no vaccines available for most bacterial diarrheal diseases, these findings highlight the importance of Kenya and other developing countries implementing effective strategies for the prevention and management of diarrheal diseases in children such as increasing access to improved water, sanitation, and hygiene, and community-level promotion of the use of oral rehydration solution and zinc supplements. They also suggest that enhanced surveillance and simplified laboratory diagnostics for diarrheal pathogens could help clinicians identify those children presenting to hospital with diarrhea who are at high risk of death and prioritize their treatment.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The World Health Organization provides information on diarrhea (in several languages); its 2009 report with UNICEF Diarrhea: why children are still dying and what can be done, which includes the WHO/UNICEF recommendations for the treatment and prevention of diarrhea in children, can be downloaded from the Internet
The children's charity UNICEF, which protects the rights of children and young people around the world, provides information on diarrhea (in several languages)
PMCID: PMC3389023  PMID: 22802736
25.  Passive immunity to bovine rotavirus infection associated with transfer of serum antibody into the intestinal lumen. 
Journal of Virology  1988;62(7):2238-2242.
The effect of circulating passive antibody on immunity to bovine rotavirus infections in neonatal calves was investigated. In the first experiment, rotavirus antibody titers in the small intestinal lumina of 5- and 10-day-old calves with a wide range of serum rotavirus antibody titers were determined. Neutralizing antibody was present in the small intestinal lumina in titers that correlated with the calves' serum titers (r = +0.84, P less than 0.01). Immunoglobulin G1 was the predominant isotype of intestinal luminal rotavirus antibody. Calves not fed colostrum during the absorptive period lacked rotavirus antibody in circulation and in the intestinal lumen at 7 days of age, even when they were fed large volumes of colostrum with a high rotavirus antibody titer at 48 h after birth. Therefore, rotavirus antibody is not retained in the intestinal lumen for 5 days following a colostrum meal, and the luminal antibody in the 5- and 10-day-old seropositive calves were probably derived from circulating antibody. In a second experiment, calves were passively immunized by subcutaneous injection of colostral whey with a high immunoglobulin G1 rotavirus antibody titer and challenged with virulent bovine rotavirus 48 h later. The passively immunized calves were protected from rotavirus infection and diarrhea compared with calves with comparable serum immunoglobulin concentrations but with lower serum rotavirus with lower serum rotavirus antibody titers. The results of these experiments indicate that circulating immunoglobulin G1 antibody appears in the gastrointestinal tract of neonatal calves and that circulating rotavirus antibody can prevent infection and diarrhea after rotavirus challenge.
PMCID: PMC253361  PMID: 2836607

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