Rotavirus is the leading cause of hospitalizations for severe acute gastroenteritis among Afghan children <5 years old

Palwasha Anwari, Najibullah Safi, Daniel C. Payne, Mary Jennings, Shugufa Rasikh, Abdul Shakoor Waciqi, Sardar M. Parwiz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Rotavirus gastroenteritis is estimated to cause approximately five thousand deaths annually among Afghan children under 5 years old. Because laboratory confirmation of rotavirus is not routinely performed in clinical settings, assessing the precise burden of disease attributable to severe rotavirus gastroenteritis typically requires active surveillance efforts. This study describes the current burden of pediatric hospitalizations attributable to rotavirus gastroenteritis among Afghan children using surveillance data collected from 2013 to 2015. Methods: Rotavirus surveillance was conducted from January 2013 through December 2015 at two of the largest hospitals in the country, Indira Gandhi Children Hospital in Kabul and Herat Regional Hospital. Children between 1 and 60 months of age who were admitted to these hospitals for diarrhea were consented and enrolled. Information on age, gender, and seasonality were collected. Stool specimens were collected and tested by enzyme immunoassay for the presence of rotavirus at the central public health laboratory in Afghanistan. Results: Overall, 1,413 of 2,737 (52%) of hospitalized children under five years old with diarrhea were rotavirus cases. The overwhelming majority of rotavirus hospitalizations occurred in children younger than two years of age (93%) while 42% of all rotavirus hospitalizations occurred in children between 6 and 11 months of age. Rotavirus transmission occurred year-round. Conclusions: Rotavirus is a major cause of severe acute gastroenteritis hospitalizations in young Afghan children, responsible for over half of diarrheal hospitalizations in this population. The Afghanistan Ministry of Public Health has prioritized reducing child mortality by 2020 and is actively working towards the introduction of rotavirus vaccination in Afghan children. These data will be instrumental in understanding the potential impact upon child health that may be achieved through the introduction of rotavirus vaccines in Afghanistan.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018


  • Acute gastroenteritis
  • Afghanistan
  • Diarrhea
  • Disease burden
  • Hospitalizations
  • Rotavirus
  • Rotavirus vaccine
  • Surveillance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Veterinary
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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