WHILE Queensland is battling a surge in cases of rotavirus, the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service says the number of cases in the Gympie region so far this year is on a par with 2016.
A vaccine-preventable gastro-type illness that mainly affects very young children, new data from Queensland Health shows so far this year more than double the expected number of rotavirus cases have been reported across the state, compared to the year-to-date average for the past five years.
In the Gympie Regional Council area so far this year, there have been 13 cases of rotavirus notified.
"This is similar to the number of cases notified by this time last year, when 11 cases had been notified,” SCHHS physician Dr Andrew Langley said. (Comparison with years prior to 2016 is challenging, as a more sensitive type of laboratory testing for rotavirus became much more widely used in late 2015, leading to better identification of cases.)
"Rotavirus is highly infectious, and a common cause of severe gastroenteritis in infants and young children,” he said.
"The severity of the illness ranges from mild, watery diarrhoea of limited duration to severe, dehydrating diarrhoea with vomiting, fever and shock, and requiring hospitalisation.
"Vaccination reduces the risk of infants developing severe rotavirus gastroenteritis by between 85% and 100%, and any rotavirus gastroenteritis by about 70%, in the 1-2 years following vaccination.
"There were an estimated 10,000 hospitalisations each year for young children for rotavirus before vaccination became available in Australia, but 70% fewer hospitalisations in years since.”
Vaccination for rotavirus is free under the National Immunisation Program, and is scheduled at six weeks and four months of age. For more information about rotavirus vaccination for your child, talk to your GP or phone 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84).