Rotavirus vaccination in U.S. children halves unvaccinated adult cases

Emory University researchers recently found that the use of rotavirus vaccines in children in the U.S. led to a major decrease in cases of the diarrhea-causing illness in adults.

Evan Anderson, an assistant professor at Emory's School of Medicine, and his team conducted a study examining the prevalence of rotavirus in U.S. adults before and after the reintroduction of pediatric rotavirus vaccination in 2008. The team determined that the number of cases dropped by nearly 50 percent between 2008 and 2010 compared to the number of cases between 2006 and 2007, reports.

"This observation strongly suggests that pediatric rotavirus vaccination protects adults from rotavirus," the team said, according to

Anderson said that the prevalence of rotavirus among adults who submitted bacterial stool culture samples in 2006 and 2007 between February and May was 4.35 percent. The prevalence dropped to 2.24 percent of samples during the peak seasons in 2008 and 2010. The decrease represented a drop of 48.40 percent.

"Because we observed declines in adult rotavirus disease that began in 2008 when only an estimated 32 percent of U.S. children (less than) five years of age had received (one or more doses) of rotavirus vaccine, the ultimate decline in the prevalence due to childhood vaccination may be even greater," Anderson said, reports.

The decline in rotavirus prevalence coincides with similar declines observed in children since the vaccine was reintroduced. The researchers said that the indirect protection afforded by pediatric rotavirus vaccination is encouraging.

"Implementation of pediatric rotavirus vaccination should be encouraged for its substantial impact on the prevalence of rotavirus in unvaccinated adults as well as in children," the authors said, according to