Rotavirus is a very common form of gastroenteritis in infants and toddlers. It is marked by diarrhea that can last for a week or slightly longer. It is sometimes accompanied by fever and vomiting, but the persistent diarrhea is what most parents remember it by!
It is common for babies to receive a rotavirus vaccine in America. The problem is that the vaccine is making things worse. Here's how:
The vaccine does not necessarily even work
From the CDC: "Children, even those that are vaccinated, may develop rotavirus disease more than once. That is because neither natural infection with rotavirus nor rotavirus vaccination provides full immunity (protection) from future infections."
From the product manufacturer:
A relationship between antibody responses to rotavirus vaccination and protection against rotavirus gastroenteritis has not been established.
(Vaccines are said to work because they stimulate an antibody response in vitro. This is obviously not the same as providing actual protection, and vaccine companies are well are aware of this fact. Are parents??!!)
Vaccine Spreads the Disease
From Lancet Infectious Disease journal published on PubMed:
Immunocompromised contacts should be advised to avoid contact with stool from the immunised child if possible, particularly after the first vaccine dose for at least 14 days. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18922486
Study from 2011 found that the vaccine spread the rotavirus to 20% of unvaccinated infants in close contact with the vaccinated child. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22008819
From the Rotarix vaccine manufacturer's product insert
Rotavirus shedding in stool occurs after vaccination with peak excretion occurring around day 7 after dose 1. One clinical trial demonstrated that vaccinees transmit vaccine virus to healthy seronegative contacts [see Clinical Pharmacology (12.2)]. The potential for transmission of vaccine virus following vaccination should be weighed against the possibility of acquiring and transmitting natural rotavirus.
Caution is advised when considering whether to administer ROTARIX to individuals with immunodeficient close contacts, such as individuals with malignancies, primary immunodeficiency or receiving immunosuppressive therapy.
Side Effects of Vaccine
According to the vaccine manufacturer's product insert, side effects from the vaccine include:
--Intussusception: Intussusception (in-tuh-suh-SEP-shun) is the most common abdominal emergency affecting children under 2 years old. It happens when one portion of the bowel slides into the next, much like the pieces of a telescope.
When this "telescoping" happens, the flow of fluids and food through the bowel can become blocked, the intestine can swell and bleed, and the blood supply to the affected part of the intestine can get cut off. Eventually, this can cause part of the bowel to die.
--Kawasaki Disease: an autoimmune disease in which the medium-sized blood vessels throughout the body become inflamed. One of the signature characteristics of it is a red tongue, in addition to swollen lymph nodes, fever, and sometimes a rash. In some cases, it can cause fatal coronary artery aneurysms.
--Death: Incidence of death after ROTARIX vaccine was significantly higher in the vaccinated. Most common cause of death after ROTARIX vaccination was pneumonia.
Additionally, from the product manufacturer:
ROTARIX has not been evaluated for carcinogenic or mutagenic potential, or for impairment of fertility.
(See product manufacturer's package insert here: https://www.gsksource.com/…/…/Rotarix/pdf/ROTARIX-PI-PIL.PDF)
From the CDC and vaccine manufacturer's own words, the vaccine does not necessarily work. And it carries some pretty risky side effects.
And your child will likely end up getting rotavirus anyway. Possibly more than once as full immunity is not provided whether the wild virus or vaccine virus is acquired.
Focus should be put on breastfeeding children up until at least 2 years of age which can provide protection and the best form of fluids to prevent dehydration and other possible complications from this very common and inevitable childhood virus. Breastfeed baby on demand to prevent dehydration.
Baby (and lactating mother) should be given probiotics which may shorten the duration.
It is also very important not to lower fever unless baby is very young and/or the fever is above 104*F. Read why fevers help the body heal faster here. IN FACT, it can be very dangerous to use fever-reducers for fevers that are caused by gastroenteritis. Check out this example:
A 25-year-old, healthy Swedish man developed gastroenteritis while on holiday in Turkey. For a day and a half before flying home, the man experienced nausea and vomiting, and he was unable to keep food or liquid down. Noticeably ill during the flight, upon landing he was taken directly to a hospital. As his condition worsened, he was diagnosed with liver failure and transferred to await a liver transplant. Information from his brother, who had been with him in Turkey, indicated that the patient had taken 500 mg to 1,000 mg of acetaminophen two to three times each day, with a maximum total intake of 5,000-6,000 mg over two days. Unexpectedly, the patient’s condition began to improve, liver transplantation was canceled, and he was discharged ten days later.1
The doctors presenting this case concluded that liver toxicity “can occur after low, repeated doses of acetaminophen.” They added, “the drug should not be used under conditions of starvation, including acute gastroenteritis with nausea and vomiting.”1
Yet today, despite this report and many others, acetaminophen products do not list a warning against using the drug when unable to eat.What had the Swedish man done wrong to develop liver failure? Nothing. His use of acetaminophen was within the recommended dosage range. The maximum recommended dosage of acetaminophen is 4,000 mg/day. The man took only 2,000 or 3,000 mg/day. He took acetaminophen merely to ease the pain of acute gastroenteritis, as do thousands of people each day. He followed the rules but nearly died.
Finally, reconsideration should be given to vaccination to not only prevent serious risk but also to reduce the transmission caused by shedding from the vaccine.
For more information, read my full post on Secondary Transmission to learn more about other vaccines that shed disease.