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The Public Health Burden of Rotavirus Disease in Children Younger Than Five Years and Considerations for Rotavirus Vaccine Introduction in China

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Rotavirus is the leading cause of severe diarrhea among young children worldwide. Rotavirus vaccines have demonstrated substantial benefits in many countries that have introduced vaccine nationally. In China, where rotavirus vaccines are not available through the national immunization program, it will be important to review relevant local and global information to determine the potential value of national introduction. Therefore, we reviewed evidence of rotavirus disease burden among Chinese children younger than 5 years to help inform rotavirus vaccine introduction decisions.


We reviewed scientific literature on rotavirus disease burden in China from 1994 through 2014 in China National Knowledge Infrastructure, Wanfang and PubMed. Studies were selected if they were conducted for periods of 12 month increments, had more than 100 patients enrolled and used an accepted diagnostic test.


Overall, 45 reports were included and indicate that rotavirus causes ~40% and ~30% of diarrhea-related hospitalizations and outpatient visits, respectively, among children younger than 5 years in China. Over 50% of rotavirus-related hospitalizations occur by age 1 year; ~90% occur by age 2 years. Regarding circulating rotavirus strains in China, there has been natural, temporal variation, but the predominant local strains are the same as those that are globally dominant.


These findings affirm that rotavirus is a major cause of childhood diarrheal disease in China and suggest that a vaccination program with doses given early in infancy has the potential to prevent the majority of the burden of severe rotavirus disease.
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Keywords: diarrhea; gastroenteritis; rotavirus; rotavirus vaccines

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2016

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