Rotavirus infections are the main cause of gastroenteritis in infants and children and it is expected that by the age of 5 years, nearly every child will have experienced at least one episode of rotavirus gastroenteritis. While severe cases are hospitalized, milder disease is either treated at home or by the GP, and as such the true prevalence of rotavirus infection in the community, and the burden of disease, is unknown. This paper reports the results of a cost-of-illness study which was conducted alongside a structured community surveillance study. Forty-eight percent of our sample was found to have rotavirus acute gastroenteritis; and the average total cost of a child presenting with rotavirus gastroenteritis ranged between £59 and £143 per episode, depending on the perspective. Given the prevalence and severity of the disease, the estimated burden of rotavirus gastroenteritis to society is £11.5 million per year.
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