The UAE study aimed at making available a scientific database that includes facts on rotavirus infections among children under 5 to help decision makers determine the best means to prevent a disease blamed for claiming children's lives across the world. GlaxoSmithKline sponsored the study.
The study is multicenteric conducted at 3 major hospitals in UAE, namely, Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, Abu Dhabi, Al Ain Hospital, Al Ain, and Al Qasemi Hospital, Sharjah, by Dr. Mohammed Howidi, Dr. Ghazalah Balhaj and Dr. Hakam Yassin.
The researchers studied infected children under five over a 12-month period from July 2, 2009 until July 19, 2010. The study investigated children who were admitted to the hospitals with the diagnosis of gastroenteritis, identifying those cases caused by rotavirus from the rest, and analyzing this group in particular.
Results of the Study
During the study period there was a total of 6,323 cases admitted to the above-mentioned hospitals. Of these, 771 cases were gastroenteritis eligible for inclusion in the study, however 13 were excluded leaving 758 cases for the study. The researchers used a 20-degree scale to identify level and intensity of the infection, considering level 11 and above as severe cases. Stool samples were taken from infected children and were sent to laboratories to determine whether they are rota positive or negative.
The study revealed that 381 cases, or 50.3%, of the subjects tested were rota positive while the remaining 377, or 49.7%, tested negative.
The study showed that most of rota positive cases were among those under 3-years-old. The 381 rota positive, 331 or 88% are children aged 3 years and younger. While the number of rota positive cases that were monitored occurred around the year, there was however a peak in the month of February (winter time) 2010. 55% of the study sample was males and 45.5% females.
According to the 20-degree scale, the study showed that 42.3% of rota positive cases are severe compared to 31% of the rota negative ones.
The study also analyzed the types of rotavirus affecting those children, in 70% of the samples two types of rotavirus were identified - G1P8 and G9P8.
Rotavirus vaccination in the UAE
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that vaccination is the only measure to control rotavirus infections worldwide. WHO recommends that rotavirus vaccine should be included in all national vaccination programmes. The vaccination is administered orally and has no known side effects.
Rotavirus vaccination is available in the UAE in private clinics and hospitals but it is not yet part of the national vaccination program.
Dr. Mohammed Howidi: "The study reveals the importance of the prevention of the rotavirus in the UAE. Doctors should encourage parents to have their babies vaccinated and the community needs to be educated about rotavirus and that it is the leading cause of severe and even life threatening diarrhea in children under the age of five."
Seminar on rotavirus infection and prevention
The seminar discussed prevention of the rotavirus for children under 5.
Two million children are admitted to hospitals worldwide because of the virus, which is also the cause of more than 500,000 children's death.