• Rotavirus (RV) is the most common cause of moderate to severe acute gastroenteritis in children younger than five years of age worldwide.
  • Symptoms include vomiting, fever and non-bloody diarrhea that can lead to dehydration and death in the most severe cases.
  • The outer layer of RV (capsid) is composed of two proteins that are immunogenic and that induce protective immunity.
  • Protein VP7 forms the matrix and VP4 the spikes of the capsid and for both proteins several antigenic variants have been identified.
  • Globally, five VP7/VP4 antigenic combinations have predominated during the past 25 years: G1/ P8, G2/P4, G3/P8, G4/P8 and G9/P8.
  • Children can be infected more than once although the first infection is usually more severe and subsequent infections tend to be mild or asymptomatic.
  • Re-exposure to a different antigenic type seems to increase the risk of a new infection which is usually milder.
  • Treatment is symptomatic and aimed at prevention or treatment of dehydration.
  • Currently two vaccines, a single human attenuated strain based vaccine and a five strain human-bovine re-assortant vaccine have been licensed and are used extensively worldwide.
  • These vaccines have proven to be safe and effectiveness ranges from 60% in less developed to over 90% in industrialized countries.
  • None of the two vaccines can claim superiority over the other because a study with simultaneous evaluation of both vaccines in the same population has not been performed.