Background: Paediatric rotavirus gastroenteritis is the most frequent cause of acute gastroenteritis (AGE) in children up to 5 years of age worldwide.
Aim: To analyse the clinical characteristics of AGE caused by rotavirus comparing to AGE caused by other agents.
Methods: The study was conducted in 30 health-care centers in Spain (25 hospitals and five primary centers) between January and March 2006. Children with AGE up to 2 years of age were included. Stool samples were analysed using immunochromatographic test to identify rotavirus infection. Clinical and epidemiological data were analysed.
Results: A total of 1192 children were enrolled (mean age: 11.2 months). Fever, Vomiting, weakness and dehydration were more frequent in rotavirus-positive AGE cases. Severity score was higher and hospitalization was likely in AGE caused by rotavirus. Family AGE illness was more frequent in children with rotavirus-positive AGE. Breastfeeding was found as a protective factor against Rotavirus AGE.
Conclusion: Rotavirus is the primary causal agent of AGE in children under 2 years of age in Spain, causing more severe symptoms and more hospital admissions than other causal agents. Our data support the interest of the introduction of the available rotavirus vaccines in the Spanish immunization schedule.