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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

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


CACERES, Diana Carolina et al. Burden of rotavirus-related disease among children under five, Colombia, 2004. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2006, vol.20, n.1, pp.9-21. ISSN 1680-5348.

OBJECTIVES: To establish an in-hospital surveillance system for diarrhea in children under five, to estimate the burden of rotavirus-related disease, and to identify the most common rotavirus genotypes. METHODS: Included in the study were children who were hospitalized for serious complications of diarrhea in three medical care facilities in Bogotá, Barranquilla, and Cali, Colombia. A solid-phase enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was used to detect rotavirus, and reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) was the genotyping method employed. The frequencies, central tendency, and dispersion of the variables were determined. Stratified analysis and bivariate analysis were performed by applying a chi squared test or Fisher's exact test, or a chi squared test for trends, depending on the type of data analyzed. Relative risks were established. For analyzing trends we performed linear regression and calculated correlation coefficients and P values. RESULTS: Between December 2003 and November 2004, 893 children were hospitalized in the three participating centers included in the study. Of these children, 68% were between 6 and 23 months of age; 2.7% of hospitalized patients showed clinical signs of hypovolemic shock, and 1.2% died. Only 57% of the mothers had given their children an oral rehydration solution before hospitalization. Rotavirus infection was the cause of 50% of hospitalizations (correlation coefficient [r] > 0.8) and was linked to an inability to hold down orally-ingested fluids (relative risk [RR] = 1.45; 95% confidence interval [95% CI]: 1.24 to 1.69; P < 0.0000) and to intractable vomiting (RR = 1.47; 95% CI: 1.16 to 1.86; P < 0.01). Rotavirus infection led to one death per 2 000 children; 16 hospitalizations per 1 000 children, and 631 medical visits per 1 000 children. A seasonal trend was noted for G1P[8], G2P[4], and G3P[8] rotavirus genotypes, and this did not vary as a result of geographic distance or differences in temperature, humidity, and rainfall among cities. CONCLUSIONS: Rotavirus infection is an important cause of morbidity and mortality from diarrhea, particularly during the first years of life, when children are more susceptible to serious complications. It is important for prevention strategies to have a high impact before 6 months of age, and vaccination against rotavirus can be a good complementary intervention strategy. No description was found in the international scientific literature of the seasonal variations in rotavirus genotypes. It is important to carry out cost-effectiveness studies in order to promote the investment of resources in accordance with population needs, and to continue surveillance activities so as to better understand how the virus behaves.

Keywords : Epidemiologic surveillance; rotavirus; prevention; vaccination; Colombia.

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