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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989


GOMEZ, Jorge A. et al. Anticipating rotavirus vaccines: review of epidemiologic studies of rotavirus diarrhea in Argentina. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 1998, vol.3, n.6, pp.375-384. ISSN 1680-5348.

Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrhea in children worldwide, and vaccines currently being field-tested could be available for childhood immunization in several years. To assess the rotavirus disease burden in Argentina and the value of future national surveillance for the disease, we reviewed available data on rotavirus detections reported by published and unpublished studies conducted in nine Argentine cities and by a multicenter study. Data from these studies indicated that rotavirus was detected in 20% of 5 226 specimens (within a range of 6% to 54% for different studies) from children hospitalized for diarrhea and in 9% of 6 587 specimens (within a range of 5% to 22% for different studies) from children who were outpatients, members of mixed populations (hospitalized patients and outpatients), or survey subjects in community-based studies. The hospital data showed that while rotavirus was detected throughout the year, a peak occurred during the winter months (May­July), when up to half of the children with diarrhea were found positive for rotavirus. Attempted serotyping of 294 rotavirus-positive specimens for G-protein by three laboratories was successful in 230 cases (78%); the resulting data indicated that serotype G1 was the most common (being present in 60% of the successfully serotyped specimens), followed by G2 (in 20%), G4 (in 14%), and G3 (in 5%). Based on national data for Argentina, we estimate that in 1991 there were roughly 84 500 rotavirus-associated outpatient visits (1 for every 8 births) and 21 000 hospitalizations averaging 4 days in length (1 for every 31 births), all of which entailed direct medical costs estimated at US$ 27.7 million. These preliminary data show that the rotavirus disease burden in Argentine children is extensive and could be decreased by a safe and effective vaccine. Further surveillance is needed to improve our understanding of the epidemiology and distribution of rotavirus strains in Argentina, to more accurately assess the cost-effectiveness of a rotavirus vaccine program, and to indicate what methods might best be used to monitor such a program's impact.

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