Background and Aims The rotavirus infection is a major cause of acute diarrhea in young children. The study aimed to evaluate the impact on healthcare and the economic burden associated with rotavirus gastroenteritis in infants, looking at incidence, disease severity and hospitalization costs.
Methods We conducted an observational, retrospective study which included children younger than one year, hospitalized with rotavirus gastroenteritis in the Department of Pediatrics in “Grigore Alexandrescu” Emergency Children’s Hospital from January until June 2011. From the medical records we extracted: month of admission, age and sex, history of the disease, clinical characteristics, data on hospital course and costs of hospital stay. Vesikari severity score was calculated for each patient (score ≥11 = severe infection).
Results We selected 429 infants hospitalized with acute diarrhea from a total of 11383 patients admitted in our department. The study included 247 infants with rotavirus gastroenteritis (2.17% of all children hospitalized). The percentage of rotavirus diarrhea was 57.6%. The highest incidence of rotavirus infection was recorded in January (78%). Mean age was 7 months and 62.3% of infants had severe diarrhea. Mean severity score was 11.3. Nosocomial infection represented 25.5% of cases. The mean duration of hospitalization was 6.4 days; the average cost for hospitalization was 581.3 euros/patient.
Conclusions The rotavirus infection represented the etiology of acute diarrhea in more than half the cases. We report a high percentage of severe gastroenteritis and a significant percentage of nosocomial rotavirus diarrhea. The considerable medical costs should justify prevention through vaccination.