Rotavirus infection and intussusception: a view from retrospect

Microbiol Immunol. 2000;44(8):619-28. doi: 10.1111/j.1348-0421.2000.tb02542.x.


A live orally-administrable rhesus rotavirus (RRV) tetravalent (TV) vaccine, licensed in the U.S.A. and the European Union, was recalled from the market because it was suspected to increase the risk of intussusception during the week following immunization. In contrast, natural rotavirus infection is generally believed not to cause intussusception. Because my experience contributed to the first paper that linked intussusception with rotavirus infection, I have re-examined our own data published 22 years ago and other studies on this issue. I also made a case study of adenovirus and intussusception as a paradigm to establish an etiological association of viral infection and intussusception. My hypothesis postulated in this review is that natural infection of susceptible (or predisposed) infants with some rotavirus strains, probably serotype G3 rotaviruses, will result in an appreciable fraction of idiopathic intussusception. Thus, the number of rotavirus-induced intussusception cases may change reflecting the relative frequency of G3 strains, which I believe was much higher in the 70s than during the last two decades. The epidemiological data indicate that the RRV-TV vaccine triggers intussusception at a rate significantly higher than the background incidence rate following the week of vaccination, particularly after the first dose. In contrast, the data do not suggest that the cumulative incidence among the vaccine recipients increases accordingly, implicating that the risk of intussusception attributable to the RRV-TV vaccine may be minimal.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenoviridae Infections / complications
  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Intussusception / epidemiology
  • Intussusception / pathology
  • Intussusception / virology*
  • Lymphadenitis / virology
  • Managed Care Programs
  • Risk
  • Rotavirus Infections / complications*
  • Rotavirus Vaccines*
  • Viral Vaccines / adverse effects*


  • Rotavirus Vaccines
  • Viral Vaccines
  • rhesus rotavirus vaccine