Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe diarrheal disease in children worldwide and accounts for approximately one-third of the nearly 600,000 global child deaths attributable to diarrhea. Ninety-five percent of these deaths occur in developing countries. Rotavirus disease cannot be treated with antibiotics or other drugs, and most children are at risk of infection regardless of hygiene practices or access to clean water. Vaccination offers the best hope for preventing severe rotavirus illness. In 2009, the World Health Organization recommended that all countries include rotavirus vaccines in their national immunization programs. Currently, two vaccines against the disease are licensed for use and several more are in development.

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Key resources

Indirect Protection of Adults From Rotavirus by Pediatric Rotavirus Vaccination (2013)
An article that reports on study results suggesting that pediatric rotavirus vaccination also protects adults from rotavirus.

Trends in National Rotavirus Activity Before and After Introduction of Rotavirus Vaccine into the National Immunization Program in the United States, 2000 to 2012 (2013)
An article that reports a decline in rotavirus activity below the pre-vaccine baseline in the post-rotavirus-vaccine introduction years.

Featured PATH resources

Rotavirus Disease and Vaccines in The Gambia (2013)
A fact sheet that provides an overview of rotavirus disease and vaccines in The Gambia.

Rotavirus Vaccine Access and Delivery
A website that outlines PATH’s work to provide expertise, tools, and evidence to support rotavirus vaccine access and sustainability in countries where children need them most urgently.

Page last updated: October 2013.