Rise in childhood rotavirus cases

5 December 2017

Rotavirus cases in South Australia have more than doubled in the past 12 months, predominantly affecting children 10 years and under.

SA Health’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Paddy Phillips said a 180% increase in cases of all ages from 2016 to date is a concern and reminded people to be mindful of hand hygiene.

“This year we have seen an increase in cases in South Australia, and worryingly, almost 60 per cent of those cases have occurred in children under 10 years old,” Professor Phillips said.

“There has also been a 120 per cent increase in cases of rotavirus in infants this year, with 658 cases to date, compared to just 299 reported cases for the whole of 2016.

“While the virus is easily spread between children, this can be prevented if parents ensure their children practice good hand washing and are vaccinated in line with the childhood immunisation schedule.

“Following good hand hygiene, cleaning bathroom taps and toilets with diluted bleach, disposing of infant’s nappies immediately, and safely washing children’s toys helps to significantly prevent the spread of the disease.”

The two doses of the rotavirus vaccination are recommended for children at 6 weeks and 4 months of age.

Professor Phillips said while symptoms vary from case to case, they can be serious.

“The severity of the illness varies and can require treatment in hospital with symptoms including dehydration, diarrhoea, vomiting, and fever,” Professor Phillips said.

“To reduce transmission, people with rotavirus should be excluded from childcare, preschool, school and work until there has been no vomiting or diarrhoea for 24 hours.

“It is important children receive all scheduled vaccinations at the directed age as delays can leave children susceptible to contracting many vaccine-preventable diseases.”

See Rotavirus infection - including symptoms, treatment and prevention for more information.

Rotavirus cases in SA over the past five years

Rotavirus cases in SA over the past five years
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 (YTD)
615 782 808 1,127 447 1,255

Age breakdown of rotavirus cases

2016 0-4 5-9 10-14 15-19 20+
299 20 9 7 112
2017 658 91 26 20 460


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