Immunisation & Vaccine Preventable Diseases

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Immunisation and Vaccines

Rotavirus

General Information | Surveillance & Epidemiology | Vaccination

Further Information

Additional information relating to rotavirus can be found in the gastrointestinal & zoonoses section of this website.

Clinical Description

Rotavirus infections in children and adults can last approximately 3 to 8 days and cause severe diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach cramps and mild fever. The combination of symptoms can lead to dehydration, requiring admission to hospital, especially in young infants. Prior to the introduction of a national infant rotavirus vaccination programme in 2013, an estimated 55,000 episodes of rotavirus-induced gastroenteritis occurred each year in children of less than 5 years in Scotland and approximately 1200 of these children were hospitalised.

Transmission

Rotavirus is highly contagious and people of any age can be infected by rotavirus however most infections occur in infants and children under 5 years of age. Once someone has had a rotavirus infection they usually develop immunity although it may be short lived and infections are often recurrent. Infection in newborns is common but tends to be either mild or asymptomatic because of protection by circulating maternal antibodies. Prior to the introduction of the vaccination programme in 2013, rotavirus infection in the UK is seasonal, occurring mostly in winter and early spring (February to April).

Prevention

Although good hygiene measures can help prevent spread of the disease, for example proper hand washing after going to the toilet or after nappy changing, however due to the robust nature of rotavirus and the low infectious dose, they are not always effective.

Following advice from the JCVI in 2009 that rotavirus vaccines would have a significant impact in reducing gastroenteritis in young children, the rotavirus vaccine was included in the infant vaccination schedule from 1 July 2013 with vaccine offered to babies at ages 8 and 12 weeks.

Information Resources

Department of Health

Rotavirus Vaccine Programme Information for Healthcare Professionals

Training and Educational Materials

Public Information