Transmission and Prevention of Rotavirus Infection

How rotavirus infection is transmitted?

The route of transmission of rotavirus is feco-oral. Contact with contaminated hands, surfaces and objects can transmit the virus and initiate infection and diarrhea. Respiratory route is also considered to transmit the virus from one person to another. The number of rotavirus particle in infected person’s feces is estimated to be more than 10 trillions and the infective dose is only 10-100 virus particles. Presence of such huge numbers of virus and the small size of infective dose required makes it ideal for mass transmission of rotavirus. Another important aspect in high incidence and infectivity of rotavirus is the less effectiveness (may be ineffectiveness) of standard sanitary measures used for elimination of bacteria, virus and parasites. This can be easily understood by the fact that the incidence of rotavirus infection is similar in countries with high as well as low health standards, unless there is mass and routine vaccination program against rotavirus infection. The stability of rotavirus in normal environment also makes the transmission of the virus easy.

How to prevent rotavirus infection?

It is not possible to prevent transmission and infection of rotavirus by improving sanitation and drinking water quality (as standard sanitary measures used for elimination of bacteria, virus and parasites can not eliminate the rotavirus) by providing safe drinking water, the only effective way to prevent rotavirus infection and diarrhea is vaccination. The numbers of rotavirus diarrhea and hospitalization is high despite providing safe drinking water.

The rotavirus vaccine:

At present there are two safe and effective vaccines available against rotavirus A. One is marketed by GlaxoSmithKline with brand name “Rotarix” and the other marketed by Merck with brand name “RotaTeq”. Both vaccines are oral vaccines and approved by USFDA and licensed for use in more than 100 countries. But only few countries (including US) use it as routine vaccination. World Health Organization at present recommends use of rotavirus vaccine in routine national immunization programs, after clinical trial in 2009, which found the vaccine to be safe and effective.

The Rotavirus Vaccine Program aims at reducing infant and child morbidity and mortality in poor countries by making the rotavirus vaccine available in those countries.

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