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Epidemiology of Rotavirus Infections in Children Less Than 5 Years of Age: Germany, 2001–2008

Koch, Judith MD; Wiese-Posselt, Miriam MD, MPH

The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal: February 2011 - Volume 30 - Issue 2 - p 112-117
doi: 10.1097/INF.0b013e3181f1eb21
Original Studies

Background: Rotavirus (RV) infection is the leading cause of acute gastroenteritis in young children worldwide. In 2006, 2 live-attenuated RV-vaccines became available for use in infants ≤6 months of age. In Germany, a statutory notification system for RV infection has been in place since 2001 to monitor RV epidemiology. Our objective was to assess RV disease burden in German children <5 years of age.

Methods: Detailed descriptive analysis of national RV surveillance data in children <5 years of age collected in Germany between January 2001 and December 2008.

Results: Between 2001 and 2008, 72% of all notified RV patients were children <5 years of age. The highest annual incidence (approximately, 200/10,000) was in children <2 years of age. In the <5 years age-group, approximately 50% of reported patients were hospitalized and of those, 9% acquired the infection nosocomially. Since 2004, a total of 8 children <5 years of age were reported as RV-associated deaths, and case fatality due to RV infection was <0.01/10,000.

Conclusions: The high incidence of RV infection and RV-associated hospitalization in children <5 years of age results in a high disease burden. Routine childhood RV vaccination would be a measure to reduce the burden in this age-group. However, cost-effectiveness analyses specific to the German setting should be considered in the decision-making process. An RV-surveillance system is in place in Germany that could potentially monitor the effect of an RV-vaccination program once implemented.

From the Department for Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Robert Koch Institute, Berlin, Germany.

Accepted for publication July 14, 2010.

Address for correspondence: Judith Koch, MD, Department for Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Robert Koch Institute, DGZ-Ring 1, D-13086 Berlin, Germany. E-mail:

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.