Jersey babies to be given
Norovirus Now a Greater Threat Than Rotavirus
Rotavirus is another type of virus that causes stomach flu and its related symptoms like severe diarrhea and vomiting. It used to be the leading cause of stomach flu in the United States, but now a study funded by the CDC found that since the introduction of the rotavirus vaccine, norovirus has replaced rotavirus and become the leading cause of stomach flu in US children.2This may sound like a grand triumph for the rotavirus vaccine (which was found to be contaminated with pig DNA in 2010 and is linked to fatal bowel problems), but instead what has happened is that another similar group of viruses has taken the rotavirus’ place. Are children really better off now that they’re being infected with norovirus instead of rotavirus?Hardly, and of course the conventional “solution” is to state that we mustn’t worry because there are several norovirus vaccines in various stages of development, including one that is in phase III clinical trials.
A Vaccine for Every Virus?
The notion that we must develop a vaccine to protect children from every circulating virus is overly simplistic at best and potentially dangerous at worst.The CDC stated that new norovirus GII.4 strains have emerged every two to three years, replacing previously predominant GII.4 strains. Similar to the flu vaccine, which has poorly demonstrated effectiveness, a new norovirus vaccine would need to be developed every couple of years to keep up with the rapidly changing strains.And this is not taking into account the fact that when children are infected with several strains of rotavirus or norovirus in the first few years of life, they typically develop natural lifelong immunity. This is not the case for vaccine-acquired immunity, which typically requires “booster” shots to remain effective – if they are effective at all. According to the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC):“Today, even though almost all US infants receive vaccines for rotavirus, and despite efforts to improve the management of childhood rotavirus-associated diarrhea, hospitalizations of children in the U.S. with the disease have not significantly declined in the past two decades.”Certainly no parent wants his or her child to be sick with the stomach flu, but this “right of passage” provides natural immunity that will protect your child against that particular strain for life. While rotavirus and norovirus are very contagious and do cause hundreds of thousands of deaths in young children each year, this is mostly in developing countries where poverty contributes to poor sanitation, hygiene and nutrition.
In the US, rotavirus causes only 20 to 60 deaths among children under 5 each year3 while noroviruses cause just 800 deaths (among all age groups) in the US annually.4 Typically, when a child in the US contracts rotavirus or norovirus, and most do, only rest and fluids are required to recover.