Rotavirus outbreak in a remote Aboriginal community: the burden of disease

J Paediatr Child Health. 2006 Dec;42(12):775-80. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1754.2006.00976.x.


Aim: To document the burden of disease caused by an outbreak of rotavirus (RV) gastroenteritis in a remote Aboriginal community.

Methods: During an outbreak of RV gastroenteritis, data were collected from patients notes, hospital and laboratory data. Age, date of presentation, severity of illness, number of total presentations, presentations per patient, total clinic hours per presentation, stool analysis, treatment and outcomes were measured. These data were compared with a time period of equal duration in order to establish a baseline burden of gastroenteritis.

Results: In a remote Aboriginal community 26 patients were managed for acute diarrhoea between 19 September 2005 and 5 October 2005. Gastroenteritis was the diagnosis in 24 cases for which there were 55 presentations. Stool specimens were analysed in 14 (58%) cases. RV was identified in eight (57%) of these specimens. The majority (80%) had mild disease. Moderate disease was noted in 15% and 5% were follow-up reviews. There were no severe cases of gastroenteritis. Four patients required evacuation to hospital. From a total of 607 presentations to the clinic during this time period, 55 (9%) were managed for acute diarrhoea. In the comparative time period there were five (0.9%) cases of acute diarrhoea from a total of 571 presentations.

Conclusion: Rotavirus gastroenteritis places a large burden on remote Aboriginal communities and health-care centres in the form of morbidity, overworked clinic staff, economic cost and reduced capacity for primary health-care duties.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Australia / ethnology
  • Child
  • Diarrhea / epidemiology
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Gastroenteritis / economics
  • Gastroenteritis / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Middle Aged
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
  • Rotavirus Infections / economics
  • Rotavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Rotavirus Infections / etiology