World first rotavirus study aims to reduce hospitalisation rates of Indigenous children

Date published:
07 Dec 2023

Researchers in the Northern Territory are conducting a study to determine if an additional vaccination would better protect Indigenous infants from rotavirus.

A highly infectious gastrointestinal disease which causes vomiting, diarrhoea and dehydration, rotavirus is the leading cause of paediatric diarrhoea deaths worldwide.

Since the global introduction of oral rotavirus vaccines in 2006, early childhood deaths due to the virus have dropped significantly - approximately 500,000 to little more than 200,000 - with oral rotavirus vaccines, which are administered through Australia's National Immunisation Program, having almost eliminated severe rotavirus disease for most Australian children.

"Right now, the rotavirus vaccine is not fully protecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children against severe rotavirus disease, and we still see young children being admitted to hospital with rotavirus infection" says RACP Foundation Fellowship Award recipient, Dr Bianca Middleton.

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