AIMS--To study the impact of confirmed rotavirus infection at a paediatric hospital; to use the data to obtain a minimum estimate of the cost of treating reported cases of rotavirus in England and Wales. METHODS--Data were obtained on all patients with rotavirus over a two year period. Information was collected on 386 patients with rotavirus infection who were treated at the 120 bed Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children in East London. This included the virus serotype, the patient's age, whether they required intravenous infusion, duration of hospital stay, numbers of patients treated in the casualty department, and numbers who had to be admitted. Treatment costs were obtained from the Finance Department of the Hospitals for Sick Children. RESULTS--The minimum cost of treating patients, excluding the cost of medical staff at the hospital, was estimated to be 95,400 pounds a year. One hundred and forty eight (38%) patients were admitted to the wards and a further 49 patients developed symptoms while in hospital. Intravenous infusion was required by 18 patients. The mean duration of hospital stay was 5.5 days. One hundred and eighty nine (49%) patients were treated with oral rehydration solution in casualty, given advice, and sent home. Ninety four per cent of the patients were aged under 2 years. The findings were comparable with those obtained in a study at Texas Children's Hospital, USA. The G serotype (VP7) of rotavirus did not influence the severity of infection. CONCLUSION--Rotavirus infections accounted for a significant number of patients treated in casualty, admissions to hospital, and bed occupancy in a paediatric hospital. The estimated cost of treating reported cases of rotavirus in England and Wales is in excess of 6.3 pounds million a year.
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