We evaluated the rates of gastroenteritis admissions to the emergency department and of rotavirus-related hospitalisations in children ≤5 years of age in 2006 at an Italian paediatric hospital. We calculated the number of rotavirus cases avoidable through the universal vaccination of children. Epidemiological data were extracted from the Data Elaboration Centre. To calculate the hospitalisation rate due to rotavirus, the virus was sought in the faeces of children hospitalised for acute gastroenteritis by means of rapid immunochromatographic assay. Emergency department admissions due to gastroenteritis numbered 2,396 (11.58% of the total admissions). Of these, 276 children (11.52%) were examined and then sent home, 1,286 (53.67%) were kept in short observation and 776 (32.38%) were hospitalised. In 27.83% of hospitalised cases, the rotavirus test proved positive. The rotavirus hospitalisation rate was 55 per 10,000 children ≤5 years of age in Genoa in 2006. In 85.6% of hospitalised patients with community-acquired rotavirus infection, the disease was severe. The number of avoidable cases confirmed that the vaccination of children ≤1 year of age could reduce the burden of rotavirus infection, especially with regard to hospitalisation (45 per 10,000 children ≤5 years of age) and admissions to short observation (85 per 10,000), generating benefits for the Italian healthcare system.
Gastroenteritis Short Observation Universal Vaccination Emergency Department Admission Emergency Room Admission
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The authors thank: Manuela Rescali for her support in the data collection; Roberto Scali and Roberto Arrighi for their assistance in extracting the epidemiological data; Emanuela Piccotti for the data collection in the Emergency Department; and Paolo Ferrari, Anna Pellettieri, Antonella Formiga, Laura Fenu and Cinzia Gatti for their technical support.
Thanks go to GlaxoSmithKline, who partially supported this study by providing two educational grants.
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