Background: In Singapore, 2 rotavirus vaccines were licensed in October 2005 and July 2007, respectively, for vaccinating infants aged ≥6 weeks against rotavirus gastroenteritis. These vaccines are optional and are not included in the National Childhood Immunization Program. This study aimed to determine the incidence of rotavirus gastroenteritis-associated hospitalizations among children <5 years of age.
Methods: Children <5 years, who were hospitalized for acute gastro enteritis, were enrolled between September 2005 and April 2008. Stool samples were tested for the presence and serotyping of rotavirus. Incidence and proportion of gastroenteritis and rotavirus gastroenteritis cases were calculated with 95% confidence intervals.
Results: Among 1976 children included in the according-to-protocol cohort, 781 were rotavirus positive with a median age of 24 months (range: 0–59 months). The overall incidence of rotavirus gastroenteritis hospitalizations during the entire study period in children <5 years of age was 4.6 (95% confidence interval: 4.3–4.9) per 1000 person-years with the highest number of cases observed in children 13–24 months of age (26.5%). G1P (18.3%) and G9P (9.9%) were the most common rotavirus types. Rotavirus gastroenteritis hospitalizations peaked between January and March.
Conclusion: Rotavirus infection was the primary cause of acute gastro enteritis hospitalizations among children <5 years of age, constituting nearly one-third of gastroenteritis hospitalizations in Singapore. The predominant strain observed in Singapore was G1P. Results of this study suggest the need for implementation of rotavirus vaccination into National Childhood Immunization Program in Singapore.