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Rotavirus Gets The Boot In Missouri Thanks To A New Vaccine

November 25, 2008

KANSAS CITY, MO – Rotavirus could be getting the boot in Missouri. Studies show a new oral vaccine could lead to the disappearance of the infection in the state. Rotavirus season typically runs from January into the spring, often causing babies to have severe diarrhea, resulting in dehydration, and in rare cases, death. But, last year, only 69 children were admitted into Children’s Mercy Hospital for the infection, compared to more than 300 in previous years.

Dr. Christopher Harrison, of Children's Mercy Hospital and Clinics, credits the new rotavirus vaccine for saving $3 million in hospitalization costs annually. He cautions against being too optimistic, however, adding if no new strains of rotavirus enter the United States, the infection could soon be wiped out.

"We have another year to see if this vaccine will turn out to be as effective, or perhaps more effective than we'd anticipated."

The vaccine has had an impressive impact, says Dr. Harrison, considering many infants, including those in daycare, haven't received it. Rotavirus often can spread like a bad rash through daycare facilities, but physicians like Dr. Harris are pleased there may be one less infectious disease to worry about.

"Because the vaccine has apparently had this dramatic impact, it's one less disease that children have to deal with in early infancy when they are the most vulnerable."

A second, improved rotavirus vaccine was approved in June, which requires two doses compared to the first vaccine's three doses. Doctors hope that makes it easier for some little ones to be vaccinated. The vaccine is taken orally cause few or no side effects. The Children’s Mercy study was presented recently at a national meeting of infectious disease doctors.

Laura Thornquist, Public News Service - MO