Rotavirus is the most common form of gastroenteritis and most children will have had it by the time they reach five years of age. The NHS describe it as ‘inflammation of the stomach and bowel. The most common cause is a viral or bacterial infection. The illness usually lasts three to five days and the two most common symptoms are diarrhoea and vomiting. In most cases, gastroenteritis does not need to be diagnosed because the illness usually disappears without treatment.’

Preventing Rotavirus

In first world countries it is a mild illness and very rarely causes death. In Western Europe there are less than 10 deaths per year in most countries. (WHO listed fewer than five deaths per year in 74 countries). India, Nigeria, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and Pakistan accounted for more than half of the 453,000 estimated global deaths. The most important way to prevent complications of rotavirus is to keep your child hydrated by giving breast milk or water frequently.  If your child isn’t passing much urine or having many wet nappies, if they have a dry mouth, sunken eyes, no tears if they cry, drowsiness or rapid breathing, these are all signs of dehydration and you should seek urgent medical advice.

Dangers of the Vaccine

The Rotavirus vaccine – an American vaccine against childhood diarrhea and dehydration – has been found to cause pneumonia.

It has already been withdrawn once for causing Intussusception of the bowel (where the bowel sticks together – the condition can be life threatening if not treated).

Now the FDA have said that according to 11 trials, rotavirus vaccine causes pneumonia, bronchitis, convulsions and death.

63,000 children were given the vaccine and there was a ‘statistically significant’ increase in the number of pneumonia deaths compared with the placebo, and the rotavirus vaccine group also had more bronchitis and a higher rate of convulsions.

The FDA now want to bring in an oral rotavirus vaccine instead of using the injection.

Links to Intestinal Disorder in Infants

Infants who receive the rotavirus vaccine, which protects against a severe diarrheal disease, may have a very small risk of developing a serious intestinal disorder called intussusception, a new study finds. In the study, researchers examined information collected from the administration of 1.2 million doses of RotaTeq, the most common rotavirus vaccine used in the United States, and more than 100,000 doses of Rotarix, another rotavirus vaccine licensed for use in the U.S.