The epidemiology of rotavirus diarrhea in Latin America. Anticipating rotavirus vaccines

Erin M. Kane, Reina M. Turcios, Melissa L. Arvay, Salvador Garcia, Joseph S. Bresee, Roger I. Glass

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Objective. To assess the disease burden and characterize the epidemiology of rotavirus diarrhea in Latin America. Methods. We conducted a literature review of studies of children <5 years of age who were hospitalized or seen as outpatients for diarrhea and for whom rotavirus was sought as the etiologic agent of the diarrhea. This review included inpatient and outpatient studies published since 1998 that included at least 100 children and reported surveillance activities lasting at least 12 consecutive months. Results. A total of 18 inpatient and 10 outpatient studies met the criteria for inclusion in this review. Rotavirus was detected in a median of 31% of inpatients (range, 16%-52%) and 30.5% of outpatients (range, 4%-42%). The median detection rate was higher in studies that used an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) (inpatients 38%, outpatients 33%) versus less sensitive methods of detection. The age distribution of rotavirus disease varied among countries, with 65%-85% of children hospitalized in the first year of life. Most countries had rotavirus admissions year round, and rotavirus generally exhibited a winter seasonal peak in both temperate and tropical climates. Conclusions. The heavy burden of disease attributable to rotavirus in Latin America suggests that vaccines currently being tested could have considerable impact in preventing hospitalizations, clinic visits, and deaths. The findings of the young age distribution of patients highlight the importance of early immunization for the success of a vaccine program. The data suggest that future surveillance for rotavirus diarrhea in Latin America should use a standardized surveillance protocol with an ELISA for detection. Data from surveillance studies will be critical to monitor the impact of the future introduction of vaccines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)371-377
Number of pages7
JournalRevista Panamericana de Salud Publica/Pan American Journal of Public Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2004


  • Burden of illness
  • Disease outbreaks
  • Epidemiology
  • Latin America
  • Rotavirus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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