Summertime risk from rotavirus must be probed: doctor

Staff writer, with CNA

Wed, Aug 01, 2012 - Page 3

More babies are suffering summertime rotavirus infections than in the winter, a trend that bucks conventional wisdom about when the illness is most likely to occur, a pediatrician said yesterday.

The number of patients has grown about 30 percent in the summer over the past four years, said Yeh Shu-jen (葉樹人), a pediatrician at Far Eastern Memorial Hospital, citing hospital statistics.

“The figures show that the rotavirus does not run rampant only in winter,” Yeh said at a press conference held to raise public awareness about the trend.

Yeh said 30 children were treated for rotavirus in the summer last year at his hospital, compared with only 27 during the winter months while the same trend was observed in 2010.

He said studies were needed on the unusual trend to decipher its cause.

Though nearly every child in Taiwan has been infected with rotavirus by the age of five, the disease’s symptoms differs from individual to individual, Yeh said.

Many experience high fever, vomiting and diarrhea and a small number of patients die.

“The best way to keep rotavirus diseases at bay is through vaccination,” Yeh said, adding the parents of high-risk children — premature babies and those with poor immune systems — should consider the treatment that is administered when babies are aged between six weeks and six months.