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health care
medical epidemiologist
health care costs
half a million
centers for disease control and prevention
high temperatures
dehydration
Rotavirus Vaccine Has Proven Health Care Cost Savings Benefits
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Rotavirus, for those who do not know, is a very common pathogen, one that is easily contracted and passed around. It most commonly causes minor illnesses but can be dangerous to children under the age of five because it increases their risk of dehydration. In 1998, a rotavirus vaccine was developed but pulled a year later because of an increased risk of intussuception, a condition that causes the bowel to retract and then to fold  back onto itself causing potentially fatal bowel obstructions. However, rotavirus itself is a risk factor for this condition.

The new version of the vaccine was released in 2006 and since then, has accounted for fewer rotavirus infections, hospitalizations and lowered health care costs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, since the vaccine started being given on a regular basis, there have been 65,000 less hospitalizations which totals nearly $300 million in reduced health care costs. According to a study released by the CDC,  the vaccination accounts for a nearly 90% reduction in the number of children who are hospitalized versus those who have not had the vaccination.

Dr. Umesh Parashar, the lead author of the study, is a Medical Epidemiologist and the Team Leader for the Viral Gastroenteritis Team. According to Dr. Parashar, some 200,000 children are brought into the emergency room while twice as many need to visit their doctor’s office for symptoms resulting from the rotavirus infection, most frequently for high temperatures and diarrhea. Left untreated, rotavirus can lead to dehydration and may also increase the risk of the dangerous, intussecption and potentially, death. Before the vaccine became routine in the US, twenty to sixty deaths in children ages five and under could be attributed to the rotavirus. The number of deaths is much higher in other countries, with nearly half a million children dying from rotavirus every year, worldwide.

The newest version of the rotavirus vaccine is orally administered in three separate doses at ages two, four and six months. To be the most effective, the rotavirus vaccine has to be given before the child is five years old. There has been no study on the vaccine’s correlation to increased risk of intussuception in the United States, but two studies, one in Latin America and one in Australia shows the number to be one to two per 100,000 of children receiving the vaccine.

The CDC reveals that the decreased health care costs and hospitalizations more than outweighs the slight risk of intussuception in some children. The peak season for rotavirus infection is the fall months with most children having their first bout of the disease by the time they reach twenty four months. The CDC also estimates that age three, all children have had some level of rotavirus infection. Adults can also contract the pathogen, however their resulting illness tends to be much milder than that of children. Symptoms include fever, vomiting and watery diarrhea. Lethargy and symptoms of dehydration may also be noted.

 


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