To determine the prevalence of rotavirus infection in outpatient and child care center (CCC) settings during the seasonal rotavirus outbreak and to describe associated health care utilization.
Prospective, multisite cohort study in various ambulatory settings.
Settings and Participants
Participants were children with diarrhea (1) presenting to hospital emergency departments (EDs) and receiving intravenous (IV; n=8) or oral (n=1) hydration, (2) seen in pediatric practices (n=4), or (3) attending CCCs (n=19) between November 1, 1997, and June 30, 1998. Prospective centralized testing of stool samples for rotavirus was performed using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and electron microscopy. Study nurses administered follow-up parent questionnaires for rotavirus-positive children.
Main Outcome Measure
Prevalence of rotavirus-associated diarrhea.
During the 8-month study, rotavirus was identified in 92 children with diarrhea: ED-IV, 20 (44%) of 45; ED-oral, 9 (47%) of 19; pediatric practices, 30 (20%) of 147; and CCCs, 33 (18%) of 186. Of 226 children with diarrhea in pediatric practices, all 5 who progressed to ED-IV hydration or hospitalization were tested, and 3 (60%) were rotavirus positive. Of 211 children in CCCs with diarrhea, 84% who required no health care visits were tested, and of these 10% were positive; of 56 who went on to require a health care visit and 8 who required ED-IV hydration or hospitalization, all were tested, and 27% and 75%, respectively, were rotavirus positive. Among 16 children with rotavirus followed up with ED-IV hydration, 4 (25%) returned and were hospitalized. Maximal health care intervention among 29 children with rotavirus enrolled in pediatric practices included 22 (76%) seeing the pediatrician only, 5 (17%) seeking further care in the ED, 1 (3%) receiving further ED-IV hydration, and 1 (3%) being hospitalized briefly. Maximal health care intervention for 33 children with rotavirus enrolled in CCCs included 13 (39%) who did not visit a physician, 11 (33%) who did, 3 (9%) who sought care in the ED, 1 (3%) who received ED-IV hydration, and 5 (15%) who were hospitalized. In CCCs, rates of diarrhea per 100 child-months of observation were as follows: ages 0 to 23 months, 6.6 episodes; ages 24 to 35 months, 1.9 episodes; and 3 years and older, 0.07 episodes; rates of rotavirus-associated diarrhea were as follows: ages 0 to 23 months, 1.1 episodes (28 of 2547); ages 24 to 35 months, 0.23 episodes (5 of 2185); and 3 years and older, 0 episodes (0 of 4124).
Across a variety of outpatient and CCC settings, rotavirus is an important cause of diarrhea and a major cause of health care utilization.